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Rooney gives Big Sam a dream start - but the hard work starts now

4:11 AM EST 11/30/17
Wayne Rooney Everton
Caretaker David Unsworth signs off with a much-needed win, giving Everton their 15th point of the season and providing a platform for Allardyce

At long last Everton have a manager and at long last Everton have three points.

Sam Allardyce, briefly of England, reports for duty today and is tasked with maintaining confidence in the squad following Tuesday night's Wayne Rooney-inspired win against West Ham United. He knows exactly what he's let himself in for.

Toffees 8/5 to beat Huddersfield to nil

Everton might well have been two Rooney goals clear by half-time but they were pinned back and can count themselves fortunate not to have been reeled in. That is until Rooney hit his hat-trick goal from inside his own half; possibly the greatest goal ever scored in this league. Everton look alive following consecutive drubbings.

Allardyce watched this encounter live and in the flesh at Goodison Park and is said to be charging a premium sum for his services, presumably more than he was asking two weeks ago before Everton's board came crawling back.

Turning Everton around is no small job but David Unsworth has mercifully signed off with a win and Allardyce has pedigree in this regard. They have breathing space thanks to a night that coudln't have gone any better. 

Big Sam kept Sunderland and Crystal Palace in the top flight in similar circumstances but the plight here is all the more baffling considering that this was supposed to be the season Everton claimed their place among the top teams of the division.

It would take a brave Everton soul however to claim the club is in any better shape now than it was when Roberto Martinez was sacked at the end of the 2015-16 season. At least then they had John Stones, Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley in the team. The former duo are long gone now while Barkley was close to joining Chelsea on deadline day. Where is the progress? Why are we battling the drop? Everton fans are entitled to ask. 

Allardyce, of course, was once in charge of the Hammers so has effectively swapped places with opposite number David Moyes, so long on the Everton bench.

Sam Allardyce Everton

"You've got Sam Allardyce," the West Ham fans taunted the home fans here, rubbing their noses in the fact that they've acquired a cast-off. That was swiftly followed with "David Moyes, he left 'cause you're sh*t." They might not have been on the night but it's hard to argue they've been anything better than that up to this point. But there the singing stopped. "Rooney, Rooney, Rooney," came in reply.

The presence of these two Premier League mainstays on benches then should not be mistaken for progress. Both of these teams had dreamed of more but rarely have two teams promised so much and delivered so little.

West Ham's move to the London Stadium was supposed to herald their place among the cream of the crop but they have been badly let down by owners, managers and players alike. Everton fans might well be able to identify with some of that.

New majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri oversaw a campaign of spending unrivalled in recent times at Goodison last summer but it appears right now that he picked a dud at most turns; Everton were fortunate to run into such paltry opposition on the night.The Stones money, the Lukaku money, squandered on salaries and transfer fees for some players who scarcely appear to want to be here.

Victory has a hundred fathers but defeat is an orphan, so they say. Well it might well be time to get the paternity tests out at Goodison.

Sam Allardyce EvertonWayne Rooney Everton

Chairman Bill Kenwright, director of football Steve Walsh - the man largely responsible for the signings, departed manager Ronald Koeman, caretaker manager Unsworth and each and every underperforming Everton player all have a stake in this shambes. Rooney's leadership on a night he wore the captain's armband will go some way towards arresting the decline but there is still plenty of work to be done.

That the club went into the season with such a lack of balance in the squad is damning enough in itself. Everton arguably needed a full new back four this summer with Phil Jagielka, Ashley Williams and Leighton Baines all largely past their best and Seamus Coleman badly injured. Michael Keane arrived but he has been a let-down. Cuco Martina is no better than a stand-in.

To a panel shorn of Gerard Deulofeu and his pace on the wings Koeman added Gylfi Sigudrsson, Davy Klaassen and Rooney, none of whom were particularly quick to begin with.

Oumar Niasse was suspended against West Ham and was the club's top scorer this season until Rooney stroked in three here. Under Koeman Niasse originally didn't have a locker or a squad number. The Sengal international has done well to transform himself from laughing stock to consistent striker but is no Lukaku.

Neither for that matter is Sandro Ramirez, on the bench here and with no goals against his name since transferring from Malaga. At least he was involved, unlike Klaassen, who wasn't even on the bench.

He is among a number of Everton players who must drastically improve their form under Allardyce. Morgan Schneiderlin, seemingly the player Everton fans love to hate, is also in that category with Tom Davies preferred in midfield alongside Rooney and Idrissa Gueye.

This should provide encouragement. The fans, while still impatient at times with the team under the kosh, clapped their men off and it felt like a reconciliation of sorts. Unsworth and club captain Jagielka pleaded for as much in their programme notes. 

A fresh start for Everton for Rooney and for Big Sam. Three goals for Rooney, five points clear of the drop zone but in many ways the hard work starts now.