Chris Goreham: Everton fans didn’t know to expect the unexpected from the Canaries
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
It’s awkward when you go to a friend’s house for dinner and end up having a front row seat at a big argument between them and their partner.
That was the feeling which greeted the final whistle at Goodison Park on Saturday as the home supporters rounded on Everton chairman Bill Kenwright following Norwich City's deserved win.
In most cases it would have been hard not to feel some degree of sympathy for the disgruntled locals. We've all been frustrated to the point of no return by our favourite football team over the years but on this occasion there was a temptation to find a box of popcorn in order to watch Kenwright's latest production.
A piece of improvised theatre featuring some red faced Evertonians barking phrases like "He's got to go!" and "Sack him Bill!" were impossible to ignore from our handily placed commentary position right behind the Directors' Box.
What made this scene so compelling was the fact that the same Everton supporters had been utterly convinced that they were going to sweep the Canaries aside with the minimum of fuss before the match.
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Just as I picked up to the start the commentary I noticed two supporters greeting each other across one of the aisles in the stand we were sitting in. One held up four fingers on one hand and one finger on the other to show his Merseyside mate that he was anticipating a handsome 4-1 victory.
The second character responded with the sort of one-upmanship which is inevitable whenever football fans get together and signalled back that he was predicting a 5-1 home win. With the fingers and thumb on the home hand now fully exhausted I was grateful that no-one found a way to go one better and come up with a gesture that meant 6-1.
MORE: Six things we learned from win at Goodison ParkFrom that moment on I really wanted Norwich City to win. I always do, of course, but this was the equivalent of pinning up some inspirational quotes on the dressing room wall.
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It should come as no surprise that teams expect to beat the Canaries at home. They did, after all, turn up at Goodison looking battered and bruised and bottom of the Premier League.
With 15 days to stew on a dispiriting defeat to Watford and a run of seven matches that had yielded just one point and only two goals it was hard to come up with a convincing argument for Daniel Farke's team getting anything from their Everton excursion.
Farke though has spent several weeks reassuring us that things would get better whenever his central defensive injury crisis eased.
It felt like an awful lot of eggs were being put into Christoph Zimmermann's basket when he made his long awaited return on Saturday but by half-time it was clear that the head coach's calm and reasoned assessment of his side's situation had been spot on.
Zimbo's return didn't just stiffen up the back four. It allowed Alex Tettey to return to his natural midfield habitat alongside Tom Trybull and suddenly the full backs were able to gallop forward safe in the knowledge that all the round holes behind them would be filled by round pegs. The well-oiled yellow and green machine that won the Championship had been jump started at last.
As good as he was at the back Zimmermann also improved City going forward with a series of excellent diagonal passes that turned defence into attack in effective and efficient style. I had forgotten how good he was at doing that.
Norwich City won't be getting carried away after Saturday and they will know how much hard work and sheer bloody mindedness it took to win those three precious points.
One game certainly doesn't decide a season but it can make a big difference to the overriding mood around a club. Marco Silva and those Everton fans sitting near us on Saturday will know all about that.