Sylvester Stallone was famously in attendance at Goodison on Monday night for filming of the new Rocky film, but an event during the match somehow manage to overawe such an occasion. Kevin Mirallas seemingly went against team-orders in their 0-0 draw with West Brom after he took (and missed) a penalty that would have sent them into a much-needed half time lead.
Once referee Michael Oliver had pointed to the spot for a correct hand-ball decision against former Toffee, Joleon Lescott, perhaps the entire crowd at Goodison Park were expecting the largely reliable Leighton Baines to step-up and convert. Despite missing his last penalty against Manchester United earlier in the season (and deservedly so, being possibly the worst one he’s ever taken), Baines still lines up in the Top 5 Most Successful Premier League Penalty Takers.
The defender, 30, is the only player in Premier League history to convert all 10 of their first league penalties, and has converted 14 out of 15 in total. So with this being the case, it seems highly foolish of Mirallas to ignore such figures but continue to seek glory for himself. Team mates attempted an intervention – Steven Naismith among those insisting Mirallas surrender to Baines – but the midfielder had taken it upon himself to seize the moment. After the match, Naismith was asked whether Baines was the usual penalty taker at Everton, to which he replied “no”; but perhaps this was just to protect his Belgian team-mate who subsequently missed the penalty. He went on to praise Mirallas as being “extremely confident”, as though giving him a good enough reason to overlook their penalty-taking record-holder.
But why should Mirallas be forgiven of his foolish greed? There have been many rumours surrounding the sharp winger about a possible departure on the horizon, possibly to a club with Champions League football, so why not just let him go and pocket an expected profit from the mere £6 million they paid for him back in 2012?
The reason that letting go of him would be a mistake lies simply in the stats. Mirallas has always been a renowned goal-scorer, even before he landed on British soil. For his previous club Olympiacos he boasts a terrific record of 34 goals in 52 matches; not bad for a winger. Furthermore, believe-it-or-not, he is statistically the most likely of all Everton players to get the well needed goals for Everton in the Premier League again. He has a higher ‘goals per 90 mins’ and ‘total shots per 90 mins’ than all of his team-mates in the Premier League this year; surprisingly surpassing that of big-money signing Romelu Lukaku and the ever-reliable Steven Naismith, as the stats below show:
So in actual fact, the last thing that Everton fans want to do is get on the back of Mirallas, which may inevitably force him into seeking employment elsewhere. Roberto Martinez seems very aware of this possibility, and moved quickly to dismiss the claims of subbing Mirallas at half time due to his penalty miss and foolishness of taking the penalty in the first place, instead claiming that he was not 100% fit. You might have proved yourself as a football mastermind, Roberto, but I doubt you are going to be able to pull the wool over the eyes of the media that blatantly.
Everton are on a torrid run of 6 league games without a win, scoring just 3 goals; two of which came in their defeat at Newcastle. If they can begin to rekindle some of their form from last season as we move away from a festive period that they will look to forget, then there may still be time to make a push for a consecutive European place finish. However, it’s no secret that an in-form team is a happy team, and this is something that Roberto will have to address first after West Brom mishaps.
The Toffees face a weekend off after being dumped out of the FA Cup on penalties to an Adrian inspired West Ham before travelling to Crystal Palace next weekend, hoping to wipe the ever-growing smile off-of new man Pardew’s face. Time will tell as to whether this break will act as a turning point this season for the club.