Fabian Delph gives Manchester City a reminder of his talents with classy display as Everton impress in spirited defeat at Goodison Park
- Fabian Delph was calm under pressure and cool in possession at Goodison Park
- His role at Everton is similar to that of Gareth Barry during his spell at club
- Delph has admitted he is a bad loser and loss to former club will leave him hurt
- Everton must now use this performance as a building block to move forward
It was nearly two hours after the final whistle when Fabian Delph emerged to talk things through.
The Everton midfielder was last to leave the dressing room following a wretched day for his new team, a 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United that had the locals howling with fury. On the same afternoon, 40 miles down the road, his old club Manchester City had played football from another planet to put eight unanswered goals past Watford.
Delph, consummate professional that he is, insisted there were no feelings of regret that he had left Manchester behind nor did he complain about his current lot. Privately, though, he must have felt some concern about the reunion that loomed with his former employers. Given the respective performances, it had the potential to be a mismatch.
Fabian Delph put in an impressive display against his former club Manchester City on Saturday
Delph has admitted he is a bad loser and defeat to City will hurt despite an improved display
Defeat leaves Everton in 15th place in the Premier League with seven points from seven games
During the course of that conversation with Delph, though, he made the revelation that he “cannot stand losing” and won’t let his three daughters win at anything. He is not someone who would readily accept second best and he wasn’t going to put up with that against the team that helped him fill his trophy cabinet.
Clearly, he was happy to see some old friends. When Theo Walcott received treatment for five minutes after being laid out by a Raheem Sterling cross, Delph and Gabriel Jesus spent most of the time laughing and joking; he had exchanges with Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan too.
When the serious business began, however, Delph was superb. Old relationships didn’t matter for a second as he kept Everton in the game in a manner that reminded you of Gareth Barry, another former City player who found sanctuary at Goodison Park after being deemed surplus to requirements in Manchester.
Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring for Manchester City with his strike on 24 minutes
Everton responded well and Dominc Calvert-Lewin made it 1-1 with a close range header
City continued to carve out chances and Riyad Mahrez’s brilliant strike made it 2-1 on 71 mins
Raheem Sterling redeemed a terrible earlier miss with an 84th minute strike to seal victory
Marco Silva was desperate to sign Delph, to give leadership and experience to his midfield, and this display typified what the Portuguese wanted to see. Cool under pressure and controlled in possession, the 29-year-old was at the hub of the best things Everton did.
One moment typified that early in the first half when he bought himself some space with a back heel in his own area that enabled Everton to wriggle out of trouble. There were other telling interventions, not least the thundering challenge that flipped Raheem Sterling up in the air midway through the second period.
Delph was desperate to win this, as were his team. Everton have been wretched at varying points of this campaign but they at least showed the desire to fight and do the basics that had been so horribly lacking seven days earlier.
You could imagine his frustration, then, in the 72nd minute when City – who had seen Dominic Calvert-Lewin peg back Jesus’s header – took the lead for a second time thanks to a free kick from the excellent Riyad Mahrez.
Delph was stood on the end of the wall where Mahrez aimed his shot; he tried to stick out a leg but it was a fraction out of his range. You could see from his reaction, as he jumped in the air and clapped his hands in frustration, how much it had hurt him. This was not a day that deserved to end with Delph on the end of a comfortable defeat. This has to be a day that Everton use as a building block to move forward.