Monday 23 July 2018

Fast start is vintage Allardyce

Everton 2 Huddersfield 0

Everton's Aaron Lennon is challenged by Huddersfield Town’s Scott Malone. Photo: Reuters
Everton's Aaron Lennon is challenged by Huddersfield Town’s Scott Malone. Photo: Reuters

Richard Jolly

Few have procured more points from forgettable fare. Allardyce has a reputation for ugly effectiveness; he is likely to keep Everton up and it probably won't be pretty. Two goals that contained elements of class were out of keeping with the rest of a low-calibre game, but highlighted the ability Everton have displayed too rarely this season.

Allardyce being Allardyce, they were allied with a shutout. Everton kept one league clean sheet this season under Ronald Koeman and one under David Unsworth.

Everton manager Sam Allardyce. Photo: Reuters
Everton manager Sam Allardyce. Photo: Reuters

They already have a first under Allardyce, even if it may be pertinent that Huddersfield have not scored an away goal since the opening day.

He has long shown an ability to win the winnable games, and home matches against promoted clubs on losing runs belong firmly in that category.

Cuco Martina recorded Everton's first shot on target under Allardyce. It was also the only one of the first half. The new manager's half-time team-talk appeared to make a difference. Well as Allardyce is paid, he is far from Everton's most expensive arrival this season. Gylfi Sigurdsson had looked anything but a £45m player before the break. After it, he delivered his most meaningful goal since his club-record transfer from Swansea. Wayne Rooney instigated the move, picking out Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who pierced the offside trap with a backheeled flick.

With Huddersfield now committing more men forward, they were caught on the counter-attack. Rooney sent Calvert-Lewin running clear and the 20-year-old's shot was deflected beyond Lossl by the unwitting Mathias Jorgensen.

Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson launches the ball ahead of Huddersfield Town's Kasey Palmer. Photo: PA
Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson launches the ball ahead of Huddersfield Town's Kasey Palmer. Photo: PA

While a less garlanded figure in the No10 shirt, Huddersfield's Aaron Mooy, was the game's outstanding individual in the first half, Rooney grew in influence. He was Allardyce's on-field lieutenant, enforcing positional discipline as he barked orders. The newcomer retained the personnel that Unsworth, now ensconced in the directors box, selected for the 4-0 win over against West Ham, but a 4-3-3 formation that became 4-5-1 out of possession was familiar to long-time Allardyce observers.

Allardyce and Everton have the feel of a marriage of convenience. Necessity - some might say panic - makes for strange bedfellows. There was the incongruous sight of Bill Kenwright, the committed Evertonian, hugging the Liverpool loyalist Sammy Lee, who has joined Allardyce's backroom staff. Both had the sense not to embrace the nearby Duncan Ferguson. With Craig Shakespeare sat in the stands, talking to Allardyce via a Bluetooth headset, they comprise a battle-hardened bunch assembled to extricate Everton from a relegation struggle.

There were no choruses of his name, except when the Huddersfield fans chanted first that David Wagner was better and then thinner than this Everton counterpart.

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