Adam Idah engineer Norwich win to pressure hapless Everton and Benítez | premier league

Gray suit, gray behavior, gray football. Rafael Benítez looked like a haunted man and with the backing voluminous in their displeasure, it’s hard to see where the Everton manager goes from here.

His side deserved to lose to a Norwich side who somehow found the strength of character and quality of play to end a run of six defeats and no goals and claim three vital points in their fight against relegation.

Everton, meanwhile, are increasingly drawn into a dogfight and while Benítez highlighted the players’ return and a better second-half performance, fans who unfurled full-time banners calling for his dismissal and that of the Goodison board of directors did not seem to agree.

“I’m a professional and I have enough experience and I came here to solve the problems of the last five years,” Benítez said of his ability to handle the pressure on his shoulders.

He has managed five games less than Sam Allardyce, once considered the modern nadir by Everton fans, but his winning percentage is nowhere near Big Sam’s – 26% to 38% – with Benítez’s record currently the worst of a permanent manager since Howard. Kendall’s unfortunate return to the club.

“It’s not in my hands,” Benítez said of his future, lamenting the mistakes that “cost us goals and points every week.”

There were many in this game, the costliest first being Michael Keane’s spot kick that gave Norwich the lead in the 16th minute.

Directly after the restart came the second, as Anthony Gordon spat possession at Brandon Williams who stormed the pitch and slid into Adam Idah for the Ireland international to score his first Premier League goal .

Benítez was able to welcome Yerry Mina and Richarlison into the squad and put them back on the pitch quickly in the second half, with both having an effect on the game and a hand in Everton’s only goal.

Everton fans are making their feelings clear on another difficult afternoon for Rafa Benítez.
Everton fans are making their feelings clear on another difficult afternoon for Rafa Benítez. Photography: Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Mina unsettled Tim Krul under a driven cross, and Richarlison capitalized on the Norwich keeper’s soft punch to sweep a perfect overhead kick into the net.

Everton had the best of the game in the second half, but not to the extent that Norwich dominated the first and, strange as it must have been for Canaries fans, the hosts managed the game well to claim victory.

The experience of Krul and Grant Hanley has been at the heart of the resolute defense but Norwich have also provided an edge advantage which has been the case for very short periods this season. Part of that could be attributed to Dean Smith’s brave decision to switch to a 4-4-2 formation, the rest to the performance of Idah, who emerges as a threat just when his team needs him.

“We’re still figuring out what type of player he is,” Smith said of the 20-year-old. “He is physically strong and he is just starting to learn how to use his body to use it. He has a nice touch, he can finish and his first Premier League goal was well deserved today. He has a lot of potential and it’s our job to bring it out of him. Norwich have moved up from the bottom of the table and are at their highest point in the football pyramid since November 2019. A point and a terrible goal difference separate them from Watford and safety, with Hornets next opponents Norwich on Friday night.

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“I’m really proud of the players because they gave it their all today,” Smith said. “I told them before the game: ‘It’s not the end of the game, but we’re getting there’ and it was time to act rather than talk.

“We wanted to get our fans behind us by putting on a performance and showing the energy and verve that we needed and we did. The glass of red wine after the game hasn’t been sweetened in a while. It will definitely taste sweeter tonight.

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