The Debut of Joey Barton
It felt fitting having my debut as Everton manager at home in Goodison Park. I was facing a relatively unknown side, Cliftonville, which I believe is from the Ireland league. I didn't know who the manager was, but I accepted his handshake anyway. I went over to the touchline and took a seat. This was going to be an interesting match.
Kickoff! We started the match, beginning the better side as good link-up play between the young Greek striker in our squad today, Apostolos Vellios, and Nikica Jelavic allowed Jelavic to fire a shot at the Cliftonville keeper, only for him to punch the ball away for a corner.
Our first goal came early as the Belgian star of our team, Marouane Fellaini played a through ball into the box, releasing Steven Naismith who fired at the keeper, who blocked the shot. However, the Scot pounced on the rebound to score an easy goal, causing the Everton fans to cheer and give applause to the new signing.
Solid play by my two full-backs, Neville and Baines, let the ball find Steven Pienaar, who scored a stunner from just outside the box to make it 2-0. Everton were cruising!
The next goal came from Phil Jagielka, scoring a rebound header from a Leighton Baines corner. All this, and we were only at the 14-minute mark.
A push on Phil Neville saw Cliftonville's Peter Maguire sent off. The Cliftonville players surrounded the ref and even the Cliftonville manager leaped off his seat to yell at the ref. I could make out a few insults in an Irish accent. Even I thought the red card was a bit harsh.
Half-time approached, but not before a header from Fellaini found Vellios, who beat the off-side trap and scored a one-on-one with the keeper, making it 4-0.
As the Everton players retreated to the dressing room, feeling refreshed, I assumed the half-time team talk.
"You boys are doing mighty fine," I said, very pleased. "These goals you score will boost our confidence for the upcoming campaign. So get your arses out there and score us some more!"
My talk seemed to have lifted the players' high spirits even higher, as they got back out to the field against Cliftonville.
Phil Jagielka attempted a header again from a corner, but this time it was blocked. However it was no problem for him to score a simple tap-in as the ball avoided the defenders flinging themselves onto the English defender and went straight into the net.
The next goal also came from the English international, as he scored a header again to round off his amazing hat trick.
Steven Naismith scored next, with the Scot being fed with a superb early cross by Leighton Baines, and then volleying into the left side of the net, a shot even the famed Iker Casillas could not handle.
Pienaar benefited from a small cross by Greek wonderkid Vellios, the South African heading easily into the net to round off his second goal.
Phil Jagielka scored his fourth goal of the night, an amazing tally, in dazzling fashion as he performed a slide to hit the ball into the net with both feet from... yet another corner!
Steven Pienaar scored his third goal from a Darron Gibson cross to round off his hat trick and the rout.
The match ended 10-0, with Phil Jagielka scoring 4 goals, Steven Naismith scoring 2 goals, Steven Pienaar scoring 3, and Vellios scoring once. A wonderful debut.