It’s been a tough week for Seamus Coleman. After being elbowed in the face by Papiss Cisse, he was, metaphorically at least, kicked in the teeth by the ineptitude of his Everton team-mates. All is not well at Goodison Park.
Newcastle forward Cisse issued an apology after earning a three-match ban for his assault on the Irish defender in the 3-2 defeat at St James’ Park as the FA provided belated support for the 26-year-old, who creditable sources insist has been identified by Manchester United as a January transfer target.
Everton easily succumbed to a fourth consecutive defeat to a Hull side led by David Meyler, who embodied everything that was good about an effervescent display from the hosts.
Coleman was a notable exception from an at times shambolic display from the visitors, who’ve won one of their last nine games. Martinez insists he thrives on pressure, which is just as well, because it is rising.
First-half goals from Ahmed Elmohamady and Goodison Park old boy Nikica Jelavic mean Everton have already shipped just six less goals than they did in the whole of last season.
Steering clear of Coleman transfer talk, Martinez insisted: “The second half of the season is an opportunity to get back our swagger. I welcome that pressure, and I’ll take responsibility.
“This is for us the start of a new year, and a chance to turn things around.”
Bruce this week ruled out a return to take charge at Newcastle. He was rewarded with a stand-out display from his players, earning a second win in 12 games to lift the Tigers two points above the drop zone.
Bruce confirmed his interest in former Spurs and England striker Jermain Defoe, but admitted financial constraints could scupper any move for the 32-year-old. He added: “That was probably our best display of the season. It was a convincing win.”
Kevin Friend’s early clanger didn’t bode well for Bruce until his men clicked into gear. City striker Abel Hernandez was felled in the box by Gareth Barry but Friend stunned Bruce by awarding a free-kick for an offence clearly inside the area.
Hull took a deserved 33rd minute lead. Sub Liam Rosenior — himself carried off injured after the break — swung over a cross and Elmohamady easily outjumped Leighton Baines to send a glancing header into the bottom corner. Hernandez was again involved as Hull doubled the lead two minutes before the break, his looping overhead pass setting Jelavic free on goal — Barry playing the striker onside but then stopping to appeal for a flag that failed to materialise. Jelavic had an eternity to chest the ball down and lob it over Joel Robles from 12 yards for his sixth goal of the season.
Hernandez should have added to his tally, but fired wide on the turn from five yards as Everton started the second half as badly as they finished the first.
Ross Barkley did test Allan McGregor as Martinez’s side finally came to life. But it was too little, too late, and Everton’s misery was sealed five minutes from time as Antolin Alcaraz received a second yellow after upending Jelavic.
Bruce said: “It took us four months to win two games, and now we’ve won two in a week. It’s a far healthier position than it was a week ago.”
Festive period to forget for Toffees
By Darren Norris
Yesterday’s 2-0 defeat to Hull means it was a festive period to forget for Everton after they became the only Premier League club to fail to pick up a point from the Christmas period.
The Toffees went into the Tigers game on the back of defeats to first Stoke, and then Newcastle and their Christmas form means they are now just four points clear of the drop zone.
West Ham’s Champions League ambitions took a hit after defeats to Chelsea and Arsenal and a draw with West Brom yesterday meant they picked up one point out of nine.
No team claimed maximum points but, despite surrendering a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Leicester City at Anfield yesterday, Liverpool top the festive Premier League table on the basis of goals scored with seven points thanks to wins over Burnley and Swansea.
Southampton, Manchester City and Tottenham will also be happy with their Christmas having also claimed seven points apiece.
HULL CITY (4-4-2): McGregor 7; Chester 7, Bruce 7, Davies 7, Robertson 6 (Rosenior 23, 7)(Maguire 56, 6); Elmohamady 8, Meyler 8, Livermore 7, Ramirez 6 (Brady 46, 6); Hernandez 7, Jelavic 8.
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Robles 5; Coleman 8, Alcaraz 3, Jagielka 4, Baines 3; Barry 3, Barkley 5; Besic 3 (Oviedo 46, 4), Naismith 4, Mirallas 3 (Lukaku 46, 4); Kone 4.
Referee: Kevin Friend 6.