The header was Ferguson-esque, the celebration undoubtedly ‘Big Dunc’ as Everton’s caretaker manager oversaw a first win in four matches with a 3-1 victory over Chelsea.
Richarlison’s early goal was pure theatre, rising above the visitors’ defence to nod home to spark a Duncan Ferguson charge down the touchline after just five minutes.
It set the tone for an almost unrecognisable performance full of fire and heart after the former Toffees striker, taking over in the short term from the sacked Marco Silva, had called for “blood and thunder” from his under-achieving players.
Two goals for Dominic Calvert-Lewin after the break were more than deserved as even Mateo Kovacic’s first Premier League goal failed to spoil the party.
Pre-match Ferguson had praised Chelsea counterpart Frank Lampard, another player-turned-manager at his former club, and jokingly asked for some tips.
Instead it was the novice schooling his slightly-more experienced opposite number.
Whether it was the change of manager which had lifted a cloud or Ferguson’s fearsome reputation instilling some fight was irrelevant in a performance reminiscent of the Everton of old and one which would have resonated with Ferguson from his 239 league matches in a blue shirt.
The Scot arrived in the technical area suited and booted – albeit with his trademark blue sweatband occasionally poking out from under his left sleeve.
He was soon punching the air and charging down the touchline to celebrate Richarlison’s close-range fifth-minute header from Djibril Sidibe’s cross.
It was a header of which the big man himself would have been proud and the first time the Brazil international had scored in three consecutive Premier League matches.
An old-school feel was enhanced as Ferguson adopted a 4-4-2 formation – something his predecessor had steadfastly refused to try – with goalkeeper Jordan Pickford clearly told to get the ball forward as quickly as possible.
The caretaker manager’s influence was evident in the effort put in by his players, with the second-biggest cheer of the afternoon for the recalled Morgan Schneiderlin after he harried and harassed Kovacic on the far touchline to force the ball out.
With former Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac watching from the directors’ box, although not in the company of majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright, the hosts continued to impress as Theo Walcott’s low cross just evaded Richarlison at the far post and Calvert-Lewin shot straight at Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea were guilty of over-elaboration in the penalty area so even when Michael Keane’s loose control gifted possession to Willian, the Brazilian and Tammy Abraham managed to mess things up.
Tackles and blocks continued to be thrown in, Lucas Digne’s clearance in the six-yard box in front of Willian the best, until Everton doubled their lead four minutes into the second half.
Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma, the latter on loan at Goodison last season, failed to deal with a high ball and Calvert-Lewin capitalised.
Within three minutes Kovacic had pulled one back, VAR ruling an offside Abraham had not impinged on Pickford’s eyeline, and Ferguson was again rallying the troops.
Both sides missed further chances as Walcott skipped past N’Golo Kante but shot at Kepa after ignoring Richarlison alongside him, while Christian Pulisic steered wide from Kante’s knockdown.
Richarlison was a brave man to show his displeasure at being substituted 20 minutes from time but when Calvert-Lewin forced home late on Ferguson was sprinting down the touchline again, celebrating with ballboys as he went.
He admits he is not yet ready for what is his dream job on a permanent basis but he has got Goodison rocking again and restored the appetite for a fight needed to haul the club away from the threat of relegation.
Moshiri’s final-whistle thumbs up to the man in the technical area was validation enough.
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