Everton’s everyman

Everton defeated Liverpool 1-0 in the Derby today. It was Everton’s first Derby win at home since 1997, and the first Liverpool loss in 10 Derbies. The win puts us 12 points (4 wins) ahead of our arch-rivals, who themselves are good enough to have advanced to the final 16 of the European club championship competion.
The only goal was scored by our defensive midfielder Lee Carsley. Defensive midfielders aren’t expected to score goals, especially journeymen like Lee Carsley. I have always respected Carsley for his ability to break up opponents’ attacks by winning the ball or, when necessary, fouling. But Carsley’s reputation suffered when a series of teams for whom he played were relegated (demoted to a lower division due to finishing in the bottom three). Carsley’s lack of the finer footballing skills and perhaps his appearance (see the above link) made him an easy scapegoat. Thus, Everton fans, who live in constant fear of relegation, were hardly enthusiastic when we acquired Carsley in January 2002. And, although he became a useful player for us, he was also regarded as a symbol of the mediocrity that has plagued our club for more than a decade.
Until this year. While playing the best defensive midfield of his career, Carsley suddenly has also become a scoring machine (by soccer standards, anyway). Two weeks ago against Newcastle he scored on a free kick worthy of David Beckham. Today’s goal, though not on a free kick, was another “bend it like Beckham” style effort.
How has this come about? Reportedly, Carsley has been spending hours working on his ball-striking skills. Thus, hard work has enabled this 30 year-old journeyman to transform himself from hatchetman to hero. And, because it was the Derby, Carsley’s heroism on this day will be remembered for decades.

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