Wayne Rooney scored his first Everton hat-trick in a stunning individual performance as The Toffees beat West Ham 4-0 at Goodison Park.
After his spot kick was initially saved by Joe Hart, Rooney reacted quickest to head in the rebound before arriving late to slot in his second of the game from a Tom Davies cross.
West Ham rallied at half-time and should have halved the deficit when Ashley Williams conceded a penalty but Jordan Pickford’s heroics kept Everton’s two-goal lead intact.
Rooney completed his hattrick in style on 66 minutes, scoring from inside his own half after Hart had rushed out and cleared straight to the feet of the Everton skipper. And the rout was complete with 12 minutes remaining when Williams rose highest at the front post to head in his second of the season.
Rooney takes another stab at a deeper role
It will surprise those who don’t follow Everton that their now top scorer sat out of Everton’s last two league games. England’s record goal scorer and all-time appearance record holder was made to look on from the bench as his side came from behind twice against Crystal Palace and were trounced 4-1 at Southampton.
Opinion is well and truly split amongst Evertonians as to whether Rooney’s presence helps or hinders the side, and even more controversial is his best position when selected. Ronald Koeman declared he could play anywhere across the front and he meant it, trying him as the lone striker, as the 10 and even wide left and right before the Dutchman was relieved of his post.
But it would appear a deeper midfield berth could hold the answer to the Rooney conundrum. Despite it being an idea that England and United fans quickly dismissed after the nightmare that was Euro 2016, Rooney’s performance as a deep-lying midfielder on Wednesday represented his finest in a blue shirt since returning to the club.
His first touch, passing range and quick thinking are unrivalled in this Everton squad and his ability to control the game from a number 6 position will make him the first name on the teamsheet for the visit of Huddersfield on Saturday. He turned defence into attack, snuffed out danger, tracked back and kept up with play well enough to put the Blues 2-0 up. Are Everton better served by having Rooney with the play in front of him? Something for incoming boss Sam Allardyce to ponder.
Kenny’s best game yet – but what happens when Coleman returns?
Jonjoe Kenny’s displays in a blue shirt have improved with every game. After a shaky start in the seniors, the Kirkdale born defender looks to be settling into life at right back.
His attacking qualities have been evident for anyone who took an interest in Everton’s U23 campaign last year and he played a huge part in Rooney’s second goal; his one-two with Lennon allowing him to run beyond his marker and release Davies in acres of space.
It’s not helped him that he came into a team bereft of confidence and shipping goals for fun, but his nerves are slowing being replaced by assured performances. The question is, does Seamus Coleman take his place once fully fit?
Big Sam has a big job convincing the Gwladys Street
Seeing Allardyce sat beside majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, as they watched the action from the Main Stand was something no Everton fan ever expected to see.
If Moshiri’s ambitions for Everton are genuine, then the firefighter’s appointment can be nothing but a stopgap. For the optimists it’s a brief but necessary evil to ensure Everton’s survival in the top flight. For the most cynical among us, it’s an unforgivable blot on Everton’s proud 139 year history.
He’s certainly no one’s first choice, especially for a club with ambitions of top 6 finishes, but after a month of dithering by Everton’s board he was left as the only choice. Everton’s form worsened, and Big Sam’s negotiating hand simultaneously strengthened. If he can only strengthen Everton’s rear-guard and steer the club into the top half of the table, then the enormous £6m a year salary will be somewhat justified.
Unsworth’s difficult reign ends with perfect send off
David Unsworth’s time as caretaker manager came to an end on Wednesday, to the triumphant ring around Goodison of ‘It’s a Grand Old Team’. If the board didn’t seem to know who they wanted to replace Koeman, then poor Unsworth was equally non-the wiser as to how long he might have in the Goodison hotseat.
Not ideal condiitons in which to take up your first stint in Premier League management and despite overseeing just two wins in eight games Unsworth was impeccable in the way he went about being Everton manager. The 4-0 win was the perfect send off for a man still held in extremely high esteem by all Evertonians, and the sight of him running and fist pumping down the touchline is one we hope we’ll be seeing again in the future.
Not just Rooney making history at Goodison
Rooney may have netted his first Everton hattrick on Wednesday, but it was a history making night at Goodison for another reason.
According to Toffees statistician Steve Johnson, Pickford’s penalty save marked the first time that the opposition have missed penalties in three successive games at Goodison Park. Of course Blues were delighted to see Pickford at full-stretch, palming away Lanzini’s effort from 12 yards, but we’d be even more delighted if Williams chose not to kick the opposition in the area in the first place. Thanks for keeping our statto busy Ashley.
The opposition have missed penalties in 3 successive #EFC home games (Watford, Atalanta & WHU) for the 1st ever time.
The only other time the oppo had pens in 3 consecutive #EFC games at our place was in Sep/Oct 2011 (WBA – Lge Cup scored, LFC missed, CFC – Lge Cup missed). https://t.co/rQ76hxa9Bb
— Steve Johnson (@stevejohnson95) November 29, 2017