Sam Allardyce will be relishing starting as Everton boss after Wayne Rooney handed the new Toffees manager the perfect inauguration, completing a stunning hat-trick with an effort from his own half in a 4-0 trouncing of fellow strugglers West Ham United.
Allardyce, who was Hammers boss as recently as 2015, will be named as Ronald Koeman‘s successor on Thursday morning and was in attendance at Goodison Park as ex-Toffees boss David Moyes brought his West Ham team to Merseyside looking for three points in the battle against the drop.
But Rooney, restored to the side by outgoing caretaker manager David Unsworth, stole the headlines with his first Everton hat-trick, completed with an audacious first-time strike from his own half.
The goal came about when the persistence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin pressurised Joe Hart into a poor clearance. The ball fell to Rooney inside the hosts’ half and, without missing a beat, England’s all-time top scorer seamlessly drilled back over Hart and into the empty net.
Rooney opened the scoring after 18 minutes, heading home the rebound after Hart saved his former England colleague’s initial penalty.
Ten minutes later the Toffees doubled up as Rooney slotted home from Jonjoe Kenny‘s somewhat fortunate cut-back.
That crushed the visitors and Rooney completed his ninth Premier League hat-trick before Williams nodded in the fourth from a late corner to give Everton the win they desperately needed.
Remember the name, Wayne Rooney!
Everton’s No.10 has had his fair share of magical Goodison Park moments. Whether his hat-trick clinching strike will be remembered more fondly than that effort against Arsenal as a 16-year-old remains to be seen. But even if it isn’t, it will be a very close second.
The irony of Rooney bagging a hat-trick is that he spent much of the game playing in a deep-lying role and, in the early exchanges, it looked as though he was falling back into bad habits.
All too often while on England duty Rooney could be found dropping deeper and deeper to get involved in the play; abandoning his post up front to get on the ball and make things happen. Taking responsibility is no bad thing but before Everton took the lead it felt like Déjà vu as he slipped back into a quarterback role.
But as the Toffees grew in confidence, Rooney got further forward and began to affect play in the areas where he is best. He was named man of the match – who else? – and came off to an ovation from his new boss.
Allardyce kept Rooney involved during his ill-fated reign as England boss and you suspect the 63-year-old will make the former Manchester United man central to his plans at Goodison Park, too, when he begins work.
Pickford Perfect For Allardyce
There are no shortage of shortcomings for the Toffees’ next manager to fix but one thing which will play into Big Sam’s hands is his goalkeeper’s distribution.
Pickford played under Allardyce at Sunderland before moving to Goodison Park for £30million, a British-record transfer for a goalkeeper, in the summer. For the second season running, the 23-year-old has found himself behind a hapless defence, but he has earned plenty of plaudits in the process.
On top of his shot stopping – which he has had plenty of practice in this season – Pickford’s other big strength is his distribution. His kicking, both from his hands and the floor, is among the best in the Premier League. His side half-volley, in a particular, is a thing of beauty in its own right.
And that will suit Allardyce who, for good and bad, is a manager whose tactical blueprint is based around getting the ball forward quickly. Having a goalkeeper who can get the ball forward quickly and accurately will play right into the former West Ham boss’ hands.
Big job on for David Moyes
Everton remain the only Premier League team Moyes has never beaten, a feat somewhat distorted by the fact he spent more than a decade at the helm at Goodison Park.
On this evidence the Scot will wish he never left. West Ham were second best in every department and offered absolutely nothing in the first half. It took the half-time introduction of Sakho to inject some life into the listless visitors who were so poor at retaining the ball.
In truth, it mattered not a jot that André Ayew had been completely isolated up front on his own in the first half as he had not received any service anyway. The Hammers appeared incapable of stringing more than a handful of passes together and all too often it was side to side rather than forward and with purpose.
Sakho livened things up but the visitors missed the presence of Andy Carroll. When it becomes next to impossible to play through the thirds – either through circumstance or your own incompetence – the big No.9 offers an alternative. West Ham could have done with the lanky Geordie tonight.
Arnautović Wasted On The Right
West Ham splashed a club-record £24million to bring Marko Arnautović to the London Stadium from Stoke City in the summer. But with no goals and no assists, the Hammers are yet to see a return on that investment.
The temperamental Austrian was signed by previous boss Slaven Bilić on the strength of his performances on the left. Yet he has been shunted all over the place since joining the East Londoners and was played on the right at Goodison.
Once more he was completely ineffective on Merseyside with West Ham’s minimal threat usually coming through converted left-back Arthur Masuaku on the opposite flank.
Arnautović’s strength is getting in behind and running at full-backs down the left-hand side. Yet he has only played there three times this season. It might be a left-field thought, but play him on the left.
Calvert-Lewin Has To Lead Everton Forward
The former Sheffield United youngster is raw. And he isn’t a 15 to 20-goal-a-season forward, yet. But right now he is Allardyce’s best bet to lead the line until a more experienced centre forward can be signed in January.
In and out of the side under Koeman with Rooney, Oumar Niasse and Sandro Ramírez all pitched in at No.9, the England Under-20 starlet has the raw attributes to be an excellent Premier League striker. He is strong, brave, hard-working and, above all, quick.
And it was Calvert-Lewin’s speed which led to two Everton goals. For the first he was slipped in, splitting the Hammers’ defence and forcing Hart to hare off his line before giving away a penalty which Rooney converted at the second attempt.
His involvement in the third was more impressive, showing great work-rate and determination to sprint after a seemingly lost cause and put Hart under pressure as he came out to clear. The England stopper’s kick fell to Rooney and Everton’s skipper did the rest.