Praise and an apology was forthcoming from talkSPORT pundits after Everton got their first win of the season over West Ham on Sunday.
After a rough start to the season had levelled out into a run of draws for Frank Lampard’s side, three points were finally taken in a 1-0 victory over the Hammers at Goodison Park (18 September), with summer signing Neal Maupay scoring the only goal.
That led self-confessed Liverpool fan and former Wycombe striker Adebayo Akinfenwa to praise the “togetherness” between the fans and manager on the blue half of Merseyside, while presenter Alex Crook was impressed enough to apologise for expecting the club to go down this year.
Speaking live on talkSPORT in a video posted on YouTube on Sunday night (18 September, 20 secs), Akinfenwa said: “I think the fans have seen what Lampard was trying to implement. And listen, I’m a Liverpool fan so you know I’m not trying to big up the Evertonians but you see once you harness that power, that togetherness, it can only be a strength.”
Then, while taking a call from a Toffees fan Crook said: “I have to admit I maybe owe Frank Lampard a little bit of an apology because I had Everton down as relegation candidates this season, but I think you had a really good transfer window.
“I really like [Amadou] Onana in midfield, Maupay probably won’t get 20 goals this season, but he might get 10 and he’s a real handful.”
On the up
Everton rode their luck at times in the win but it was still a good enough performance to warrant three points, and it is a crucial milestone in the season.
The first victory is a good signifier that this team is building, and is a vindication of the view that even amid the poor results to start the campaign there were signs that they weren’t far off.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin was expected to be back fit for the Irons visit, but the manager decided to treat the situation with extra caution in light of last-season’s set backs, and was duly rewarded by the replacement in Maupay.
The transfer window was far from perfect, as had to be expected with financial restrictions making it a much tougher job, but with the late deals for Maupay, Idrissa Gueye, and James Garner, the squad looks strong.
The dual centre-back acquisitions of Conor Coady and James Tarkowski might be the most important fix of them all as the defensive record is far better than during the relegation fight earlier this year.
With a much sturdier platform to build from at the back and in midfield the attacking players can flourish, with Demarai Gray and Anthony Gordon looking very sharp, and with a striker signed and another on his way back from injury there is no reason this team can’t confound a few more expectations like Crook’s.
A note of caution has to be included however, as after seven league games last season Rafael Benitez had lost only once and won four times, and we all know what happened after that, but currently things are certainly heading in the right direction.