April 10, 2024

A third of the way into the season, rising sensation Alejandro Garnacho cheekily named himself the “goal of the season” winner, causing Everton to cry injustice both on and off the field at Goodison.

Despite a subpar performance, the Argentine international, who is regarded as the future of both his club, Manchester United, and his country, scored an incredibly beautiful goal to give his team an early lead that they managed to enhance to win 3-0. However, Everton’s manager, Sean Dyche, was extremely upset at a “bizarre” VAR call that gave the visitors a game-changing penalty in the second half, thus ending a match that Everton had dominated up to that point.

Referee John Brooks didn’t see a foul when Anthony Martial milked a contact with Ashley Young, and even booked the Manchester striker for simulation, but VAR Chris Kavanagh suggested he saw a ‘clear and obvious error’ to overturn the onfield decision.

That incensed Dyche, who said: “It’s bizarre. There’s no point. I feel for fans. We all know what’s going to happen. The way this VAR thing is, it’s just all over the place, we all know that. It’s the simplest thing but it seems to be mayhem all the time. All of a sudden we’re 2-0 down from a nothing moment.

“And I will be ringing the powers that be and asking them: ‘look, can you explain to me again, what is a clear and obvious error because I don’t understand it’.”

While there was inevitable controversy on an afternoon when Everton’s fed up fans produced a passionate protest against their 10-point deduction before, during and after the game, Garnacho’s overhead kick was the one moment of class.

And asked if that was the goal of the season already, he replied with a smile: “Probably! It is still November, but yes. I cannot believe it. I just turned around and thought ‘oh my God’. The best I have scored – I am happy.”

John Brooks refers to the on-field VAR screen for a potential penalty during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Manchester United

His manager Erik ten Hag also branded it the goal of the season, but pleaded with fans not to get carried away by comparing the teenager to Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored equally spectacular goals for United. He said: “Probably the goal of the season already, but please don’t compare – if you want to be a player like Rooney or Ronaldo, then you have to work incredibly hard and do it on a consistent basis, and so far he hasn’t done that. But he has high potential and a lot of quality.”

Everton fans were less happy, given the unprecedented, draconian punishment of a points deduction, and they showed their disgust with the Premier League by branding the authorities as “corrupt” with a protest louder than any in football memory.

And Dyche summed up the fighting spirit at the club, despite the defeat, when he said: “Ten points taken away from anyone will change their season. Until the appeals process goes through we have to play away the noise.

“We can say how unjust it is – and everyone seems to think it is, but the mentality has to be, we take it on the chin until the appeal, take on the challenge (of making up the 10 points deducted) and get on with changing it. I am not one to cry about it, and we won’t be doing that. Our mentality will serve us well.”

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