The Media Review: Everton

The media reflects on a stunning win at Goodison Park.

By Nick Szczepanik • 04 January 2023

By Simon Davies
Albion celebrate after Pascal Gross's delightful goal to put Albion 4-0 up.

With Albion’s win away to Everton coming just 24 hours after Liverpool’s loss at Brentford, you could have forgiven the Merseyside press for descending into a navel-gazing pit of despair and concentrating on the pressure building on Toffees manager Frank Lampard.  

But after years spent watching teams built by Bill Shankly, Harry Catterick, Bob Paisley, Howard Kendall, Kenny Dalglish and Jurgen Klopp, the writers who frequent the press boxes of Anfield and Goodison know good football when they see it. And they saw it from Roberto De Zerbi’s boys in our 4-1 win.

In The i, Richard Tanner – known as ‘Roscoe’ for reasons that will be obvious to tennis fans of a certain age – wrote that “Roberto De Zerbi’s away-day specialists tore Everton apart. Brighton bounced back from their home defeat by Arsenal with a highly impressive performance and didn’t even need to introduce World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister until they were 4-0 up. Once Japan international Kaoru Mitoma put them ahead in the 14th minute, the Seagulls didn’t look back.”

Mark Jones took up the story in The Mirror: “The Japan international exploited a mistake by Nathan Patterson to run onto the ball, cut into the box and coolly find the net for his second goal of the week after he netted in the 4-2 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday.


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De Zerbi: Ferguson can become great striker

“It then took Brighton only six minutes of the second half to double their lead. Eighteen-year-old Evan Ferguson, who had impressed on his first Premier League start, was the man to put the ball in the net after Jeremy Sarmiento jinked his way to the byline and provided a perfect cut-back.

“And boos rang out round Goodison Park as Solly March was given far too much space on the edge of the box to make it three just three minutes later. Remarkably, three minutes after the third, a fourth arrived. A reckless pass from Idrissa Gana Gueye was seized on by Pascal Gross just inside the Everton half and he had the freedom of Goodison to run through and chip the ball over Jordan Pickford.”

Dominic King of The Daily Mail is a regular on the England under-21 beat and he recalls a young Solly March featuring for the young Lions. 

“First, full credit must go to Brighton, a progressive club with a long-term vision and an outstanding plan,” he wrote. “They scored four, might have had a couple more and carried a swagger that left Evertonians wishing their own team could play with such alacrity and ingenuity.

“Roberto De Zerbi and his squad will bound towards the business end of the campaign from a position of strength and why should they not be dreaming of qualifying for Europe? They have all the tools to go the distance and are playing as well as anyone around them in the table.

“Once Sanchez put his foot on the ball, Brighton took a deep breath and began to pass and move around Everton, their luminous orange shirts a blur as they made the hosts midfield and defence look as mobile as training ground mannequins.


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March: It's a great win

“Brighton, really, should have taken the lead in the 10th minute when the enthusiastic Solly March – what an excellent professional he has been, right from his days as an England Under-21 international – scuttled to the byline and picked out Kaoru Mitoma at the back post but he headed over.

“No matter. In the next attack, Moises Caicedo swept a long ball out from right to left and Everton right-back Nathan Patterson horribly misjudged it, allowing Mitoma to collect, turn the Scot inside out and then drift inside Conor Coady to slot past Jordan Pickford.

“What a dreadful goal this was for Everton to concede but Brighton were certainly not complaining. They spent the remainder of the opening period dominating possession and playing with swagger of a team who know their roles inside out.

“A second goal should have arrived in the 20th minute but Evan Ferguson’s instinctive volley clomped the post after Mitoma, again, had caused havoc when left-back Pervis Estupinan set him free. Had Brighton doubled their advantage at that point, the game might have been as good as over.

“Ferguson, such an outstanding prospect, made sure of the points in the 51st minute with a super finish before March got in on the act, waltzing past Everton defenders who comically fell over in a desperate attempt to make a tackle.


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Ferguson buzzing after Everton goal

“Cries of ‘sack the board!’ erupted immediately, with hundreds of fans dashing to the exits, before Pascal Gross completed the humiliation, his goal securing Brighton their biggest win away from home in the Premier League era.”

King was only one of several writers to suggest that a club with Everton’s proud history and considerable financial resources might expect to be much closer to Albion’s position in the table. In The Daily Telegraph, Chris Bascombe wrote that “It is a shame [Everton] owner Farhad Moshiri no longer attends Goodison games because – as well as hearing the levels of disgust from the fanbase – he might find some use in the lessons from visiting directors in how to run a football club.

“Instead, as Roberto de Zerbi’s players passed around the blue shirts as if evading training cones, one was left to question how it came to this? Football being as it is, the appetite will be to scapegoat Lampard for Everton’s obvious lack in quality, certainly when compared to a side which had the luxury of bringing a World Cup winner, Alexis Mac Allister, off the bench with the points long secure.

“Brighton knew exactly how they could assert their superiority, their clever midfielders finding the pockets of space between Everton’s midfield and defence, and the threat obvious with each attack. By the time March had the space to add the third on 54 minutes, Goodison was literally aflame as the blue flares needed to be removed from the pitch. Gueye’s gift to Gross defied those who felt it could not get any worse. This is Everton in 2023.”

Andy Hunter warmed to a similar theme in The Guardian after pointing out that Albion “ran riot to record three consecutive top flight away wins for the first time in their history. Brighton, everything Everton are not in terms of recruitment, strategy, financial planning and style of play, capitalised in style to condemn Lampard’s side to a third successive home defeat.


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Extended PL Highlights: Everton 1 Albion 4

“The home crowd were growing restless before the break at the lack of ideas in Everton’s attacking play. Restlessness turned into revolt and revolution when their team conspired to concede three goals in six truly shambolic minutes. Each one was a defensive calamity from an Everton perspective, but testament to the belief and talent running through the Brighton ranks. Brighton created enough good situations thereafter to have won by six or seven. They had punished Everton enough.”

Ditto Paul Joyce in The Times: “There is no disgrace in losing to a Brighton side buoyed by an infusion of youth, most notably from teenager Evan Ferguson, yet the pathetic manner in which the hosts leaked three goals in six minutes at the start of the second half to deepen relegation concerns reached new depths of ineptitude.

“In many respects, Brighton — who scored four goals in a top flight away match for the first time in their history — are the team Everton should be, with the success of their evolution actually serving to damn the aspirants in these parts.

“They were promoted to the Premier League the season after Farhad Moshiri, absent again tonight, first purchased Everton with the promise of transforming the club’s fortunes by spending a barrowload of cash. It has not worked and, in the six seasons since, it is Brighton who have steadied themselves by cleverly manipulating the transfer market and nurturing promising talent.

“A change of manager does not prompt panic, as it does at Everton, where a pantomime search usually ensues. There is a discernible playing style dependent on nimble, intelligent footballers who are comfortable in possession, with Roberto De Zerbi now seeking to apply tweaks to the firm foundations Graham Potter, his predecessor as manager, bequeathed by playing out more from the back. That approach paid handsome dividends. Brighton were an absolute joy to behold. Everton an absolute shambles.

“De Zerbi showed bravery in handing Ferguson, signed from Bohemians two years ago, a full Premier League debut, while Ecuador international Jeremy Sarmiento made only his second start playing just off the striker. Together with Levi Colwill and Caicedo, Brighton had four players aged 21 or under in their starting XI, which was their most in a league match since May 2011 when they were in League One. All this and with returning World Cup-winner Alexis Mac Allister restricted to a late cameo.”

Ken Lawrence’s report in The Sun contained an interesting comparison of an Albion teenager and an Everton legend. “Already a goal ahead at half time through Kaoru Mitoma’s fine early strike, the Seagulls then spent five minutes slicing through craven and clueless opposition,” he wrote.

“In that time just after the break Evan Ferguson, Solly March and Pascal Gross scored three more amidst a total collapse. The sight of Idrissa Gueye rolling the ball into the path of Gross for the last of that trio of strikes in the 57th minute said it all about this capitulation.

“Rarely in the near-72 years since the Goodison club last found itself in the second tier of English football can there have been such a pathetic display. None of which should take away from the excellence of Brighton’s attacking, albeit against a side that played with little or no aggression and desire, far less pride.

“Up stepped Ferguson, aged 18, making his first Prem start, and a living reminder of another striker by that name who once ruled Goodison. But Big Dunc is only a memory these days, young Ferguson a barnstorming reminder. He shot against a post, barged through defenders, had a spat with James Tarkowski then tapped in for Brighton’s second six minutes after the interval.”  Big Evan? We like the sound of that…