Damn you Everton, you little tease.
Incredible. Just when you think a scrap with Manchester United for seventh (just writing that boggles the mind) is the only thing to look forward to at the end of such a promising season, a run of form has you dreaming of magical things. What’s more, it’s been done with Everton stalling between second and third gear most of the time, leaving you believing that fourth place isn’t just possible; it’s easily within our grasp. This is the point where it all goes to pot.
The raw, almost childlike belief that under Roberto Martínez we can do anything is coupled with the ominous thought that we’re Everton, aren’t we.
It’s such a happy but frustrating feeling. Like being friendzoned by Margot Robbie. (Google. Seriously.) And she’d get it, just as Newcastle got it on Tuesday. Hard. It’s always fun beating the Geordies, and this time it was done with such casual ease that you can’t help pulling a face Jeremy Clarkson would be proud of. Look at Alan Pardew sweat, eh. He wants to finish above us next season. Ahahaha.
Quite rightly, Ross Barkley took the plaudits. What a stunner, lad. No matter how much the Newcastle defence was recreating Bambi on Ice, that goal took quality. Now he’s making more of the right decisions in the final third, it’s all sound. But it’s important to highlight the other performances. Deulofeu was at his creative best. John Stones was boss again despite being 19 and having a chasm in his forehead. Lukaku used his strength and finishing ability to notch a third goal in his last four games. Leon Osman! Leon Osman scored a goal! Kinell, I’m turning Everton Aren’t We into some happy-clappy Evertonian Pravda here. THE CLUB OF THE PEOPLE. SUPPORT OR DIE.
In all seriousness, this is the result of a revolution. But rather than Lenin and Trotsky we’ve benefited from the work of Messrs Martínez and Jones. Roberto Martínez will get a lot of plaudits from pundits who appreciate how he got little Everton passing the football and how he’s really earned that move to Arsenal. Whatever. We know that the club has been turned inside out and even the most minute details have been changed to make us competitors. Look on Twitter or Facebook and you can see the change amongst ordinary Evertonians. The thoughtless are starting to think – although it’s easy when we’re on a run of four straight wins. But getting regular updates on the club’s inner workings, as well as plans for the immediate future, relayed to the fans by the manager is refreshing. Martinez’s plans to revamp Finch Farm by adding bedrooms and more playing facilities was coupled with the admission that he has been squirrelling money away for the summer and he wants six players to help with competing in both European and domestic competitions.
MONEY. PLAYERS. EUROPE. I’m going to need to lie down.
But let’s not get carried away – first and foremost we need to think about our opponents. Fulham may seem like the best opponents to face when looking for a fifth away win, or perhaps the worst, but the truth is that they won’t be able to stop us if we turn up and do that boss Everton thing that seems to be happening. Felix Magath has supposedly fled Germany for his repeated human rights violations and is now looking to scare Fulham back up.
They’re a weird bunch, Fulham. Taking in the sewage fumes from the Thames, added to the fact they seem to think themselves superior as Hammersmith’s quite a nice family area. As a result you get the Fulham Ultras popping by Waitrose before the match to get a smoked salmon wrap to munch on instead of, y’know, singing or the like. What was utter madness off the pitch – any side with a Michael Jackson statue needs to consider liquidation as a way of saving dignity – turned to dull drivel on it. Every season, March would hail the end of Fulham’s season. This time, they’re up against it, and there doesn’t seem to be a miracle in them.
Which means they’ll have to sort us out. Bit worrying, that. Until you look at the team, of course. Dutch international Maarten Stekelenburg will surely return for this one, although he’s not exactly “Safe Hands”. Don’t worry lad, stick with Fulham and trophy-dropping won’t be a problem any more. Riise, Riether and the impressive albeit a bit past best before date Brede Hangeland will be joined by everyone’s favourite wage drain, Johnny Heitinga. Fair play to him, he’d always look happy when he scored. What a man.
The likes of Kvist, Richardson, Karagounis and Kacaniklic are veritable Stracqualursis, in that they work hard without having all that much of an impact. Steve Sidwell could be a solid part of a crumbling midfield, while Lewis Holtby is a creative, attacking player with a real soft spot for us – not that he’ll show it on Sunday. The flirt. On a more pleasant note, kindergarten striker Cauley Woodrow is being called up ahead of Darren Bent, which is a bit hilarious. £11m “saviour” Kostas Mitroglu is a bit like his home nation at the moment…frankly, a bit useless. And crocked.
Howard, Baines, Coleman, Distin, McCarthy and Barry are Everton. Never leave us, lads. But who partners the Frenchman? Stones or Jagielka? The fact we can even have such a selection headache is beautiful, but it’ll be the captain. Have a rest there Stonesy. Barkley’s nailed on to play again, surely, but he could be alongside McGeady, Mirallas, Deulofeu or Osman. Lukaku will plough his lone furrow up front. While I’m here, a quick shout out to Steven Naismith. Keep smiling Naisy, we haven’t forgotten you.
It’s well documented that a treble of us beating Fulham, Arsenal losing to Man City and us beating Arsenal next Saturday would put us into fourth with a game in hand on the Gunners and just six games left for us. Alright, it’s wonderful. But it hasn’t happened yet. We’ll talk more about Arsene Wenger’s lot next week. For now we need to think positive, play positive and look up that table and at the growing points tally. All that seems to be very easy with Roberto Martínez calling the shots.
(psst, Everton. Remember that almighty battering you promised? Awh, go on.)