What the manager said
I love the gaffer's response when it was suggested he'd have taken a point before the game:
...No. No, I disagree with you, no. We don't plan three points here and one there or we can lose this one. No, I promise no.
The idea is to compete. Last year we were maybe closer to getting the win and we lost with a late own goal. Today we played our way, it wasn't spectacular and I don't think it was magnificent but we made it difficult.
We learned from previous Everton games and from Thursday how Lille gave them chances to score three and even a few more chances to score. The idea was to reduce Everton's chances to a minimum and then play the game by creating, crossing, overlapping and doing the things you need to do week in, week out.
Dunno exactly what it is I love about that, but it certainly made me smile. I think perhaps because it's just a reminder to people that there's a plan at this football club now. That last season's amazing end-of-season run proves you can beat anyone if you're prepared to work and follow instructions.
It implies we're not only hard to beat, but that we have ideas of our own when we have the ball. It would have been easy for Gus to shrug his shoulders and answer "yes" to that.
The game we'll never speak of again can actually be forgotten (kind of)
Technically, I'm not talking about that game. I'm making an observation that we look back to being the side we saw before it. We look hard to beat and the players look focussed, organized and sure of their roles. The side isn't oozing with quality but it seems there's enough there, even without key players, to be good enough at home this season to be comfortable.
It's worth noting that while last season we all had a good old moan about our early home fixtures, this season's have been similar. Spurs, Everton and Man Utd left the SOL with maximum points last season and we've not lost to either of them this time around. The only one game we've had at home where you thought, yep, we really could do with winning this one was Stoke. And we did. .
Of course we'll find out more about this side when we play more of lower teams at home, but I'm happy enough to presume that game can be treat pretty much in isolation.
Full backs really do make a team
Obviously, there are many factors and components to what makes a good team. If we can get someone to play that front left role and find a real midfield creator, we could be a very good one. What was so glaringly absent though, was the marauding fullbacks. Besides Fletcher's brace against Stoke, the performances of Billy Jones and Patrick van Aanholt were the highlights of that game.
Seamus Coleman got inside our box to win the penalty for Everton and it's just a reminder as to how important the modern fullback is from an attacking perspective. Anthony Reveillere is doing as well as anyone could expect considering the circumstances but there were many occasions when a move was slowed down because van Aanholt wasn't there to make that lung bursting overlap.
The same can be said for the opposite flank too. Vergini is comfortable on the ball and certainly isn't shy in getting into advanced positions. But he doesn't offer the balance that Billy Jones does and without the two of them, counter attacks are undoubtedly more laborious.
I'm gutted van Aanholt is out for up to three months. Gutted.
Ordinarily people hate halting the Premier League for international week, but Gus is very thankful for it this time around. Ricky Alvarez and Sebastian Coates should be fit for the trip to Leicester with Billy Jones having an outside chance. Giaccherini and Jones should be fine for the visit of Chelsea.
It's a handy time for a little break from that point of view, and the fact it follows four points from two games is also pretty satisfying.