Everton win again and are slowly but surely looking like an outfit that is capable of hurting teams and achieving something worthwhile. Aside from making Paul Merson eat his words, Richarlison looks like an incredible player who Everton were well worth ‘ruining’ the transfer window for. Lucas Digne has seamlessly filled Leighton Baines’ shoes, while Andre Gomes is making Evertonians purr as much on the field as his chiselled looks are doing so off it.
There are other faces, some new, some who have been at Goodison for previous regimes that I could, and deserve to, mention, but this piece (if you haven’t already figured that out with the title) is about Everton skipper Seamus Coleman – a man who has endured a bit of a rollercoaster this campaign due to injury and not hitting the high standards both he and the Toffees’ faithful expect. A first goal of the season against Brighton on Saturday not only restored the Blues’ lead, but also gave the chance for the 30-year-old to clear the air and get a few things off his chest.
Watching the ball fly past Brighton no.1 Matthew Ryan, the skipper charged towards the Gwladys Street – not uncommon for Everton players to do this – and proceeded to cup his ears before punching the air with delight.
‘It was great to score for the first time in a long while because of the injury I had’ said the 30-year-old right-back. ‘Scoring goals is part of my game over the years and I enjoyed scoring again.’
‘There was a bit of everything [with my celebration]. It was my first goal since I broke my leg. When I came back here in January [from the broken leg] and played against Leicester, the reception I got from Everton fans is something that will stay with me for a long time… The fans understand the love I have for them and vice-versa.’
The above extract, courtesy of evertonfc.com, sums up Coleman for me: honest, passionate, hardworking and with a love for the club and its fans that many players never have. But was it also a little reminder to one or two Blues on social media that the Republic of Ireland star is not quite yet finished.
Signed from Sligo Rovers in 2009 for a fee now synonymous with the song affectionately sung by the Evertonians, *has a little hum while typing* the right back had surgery on an infected blister so serious it might have jeopardised his playing career, before even making his debut. That ill-fated start came in a 5-0 hammering at the hands away at Benfica. Culpable for at least one of the goals, lesser individuals would have struggled to come back. But three short days later, with Everton 2-0 down to Tottenham, Coleman was thrust back into the limelight, as an injury to Joseph Yobo saw an enforced change. The Blues drew that game 2-2 and Coleman was named man of the match with a performance so full of energy, many supporters couldn’t quite believe what they are seeing.
Coleman went on to be named in the PFA Team of the Year during the 2013/14 season and also claimed his club’s Player of the Year and Player’s Player accolades. In 2017 a horrific collision with Wales’ Neil Taylor saw the former Sligo man fracture his tibia and fibula; an injury so horrific the footballing world rallied round to offer support. Would Coleman ever be the same? Would he even play again?
He returned in January 2018 as Everton beat Leicester City 2-1. His game was epitomised when he produced a run in the dying minutes to put the pressure on the Foxes.
This season has not been the kindest to the skipper. Poor form was exacerbated by another injury sustained on international duty, which has led to frustration for both player and fan. Making his comeback against Crystal Palace, Wilfried Zaha terrorised Everton’s right side, despite the Blues emerging victorious. A similarly tough game was to follow for the skipper against Manchester United. Anthony Martial, a player in devastating form, made life incredibly difficult and played a huge part in ensuring his side came out of the encounter with the points.
Supporters were upset and understandably so. Coleman didn’t play well and bore the brunt of a lot of criticism. That’s okay, as long as it doesn’t get personal. Fans have their right to criticise and analyse. And Coleman responded in the best possible way: an improved performance and a goal. He is still a little way off reaching his own incredibly high standards; he might never reach them again and Marco Silva may well be looking at that area as a position he needs to strengthen. Coleman is 30 and the future needs to be planned for now.
But with all he has been through and come back from I consider it a bit short-sighted to write him off as finished just yet. He will be aware of what is being said and what needs to be done and for me, Coleman’s still the mustard!