“Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.”
When Joseph Heller wrote this, he was thinking of life and death, the incorrigible foe, the confluence of hope and doom and the eternal quandary of fight and flight, fate and self-determination, to accept damnation or fight it against all odds.
Of course, he was talking about war, and not having to deal with Kopites while pointing Antolin Alcaraz towards the net he’s aiming for.
What we have, ladies and gentleman, is our very own Catch 22. Let’s face it – it was always going to end this way. Nice to compound it by playing Arsenal and Man Utd off the park while crumbling against Crystal Palace and Southampton. The latter of course being due to two own goals in one sitting. It actually couldn’t be more Everton, could it.
As a result, we now have to beat Man City or Hull just to keep Spurs and Manchester United off our backs. We know that 4th is gone now. But it’s still a run of 8 wins in the last 10, and 75 points is still a possibility. A record points tally, better football, and Europe. Please, Europe. Of course, it’s a bit more Everton than that. Beating Manchester City hands the initiative back to good ol’ Liverpool. That’s right, that lovely bunch. Their fans will sure appreciate our efforts.
So inside us all is one Shakespearian hell of an internal conflict. So let’s split this preview right down the middle.
COME ON THEN EVERTON.
Yes, let’s have ’em. Of every side we’ve played this season, not many come to Goodison Park with more trepidation than Manchester City. We were brothers once; teams united by a latent hatred of our overbearing, arrogant, plastic-encouraging smart-arse red-wearing neighbours. While they fell to the third tier we hung around and waited for them. The likes of Dickov, Goater and Tiatto came back and we applauded. And then they got rich.
Ruined it really. Now they have such detestable figures as Samir Nasri and Joleon Lescott. And Samir Nasri. Hearing them moan about anything, ANYTHING, when not long ago they had nothing reminds you how plastic they’ve become. Pain, was it, having to play Barcelona in midweek and a Premier League game at the weekend? Bless. Remember York? Grimsby? Gillingham? We don’t. So, you know what? We owe Man City nothing. ‘Mon the ‘ton.
NAH. COME ON CITEH.
Yeah, good ol’ Man City. They’re still a people’s club. Sift through wee Harry from Wiltshire who was hooked thanks to that boss Man City team on FIFA 11 and has a crack at us on Twitter because he’s a right #LAD and you find some good, salt of the earth fans who travelled across the land watching real dirge. Some of them have been to Springfield Park, Blundell Park and the Nou Camp. We haven’t suffered those lows but we’re not getting the highs either. Yeah, we’d like to have a bit of what Manchester City have. And then there’s the alternative.
Cocking Liverpool. The hate’s just overflowing. For years they’ve picked up the odd trophy along the way, and rubbed it in all they can. Istanbul eh. To most it’s a city of culture. To them it’s a year. 2005. They’re pests, every one. And this week it’s been abysmal. “Go on Everton, do it for Merseyside”. “Do it for the 96”. Granted, no-one making that shout could possibly be from Merseyside or even know of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster behind that collective name, but plastic fans is another part of it. Look at them crawling out. The Brighton lads who just remembered they support Liverpool. Nice coma was it gents? The ones who actively dislike the city but “love” the club melt my brain. Get back to Croydon you melts.
Oh God. Imagine. The “Thank You Everton” banners. The parades. International parades. Scrawling “Champions” on everything. The chants. The bile and spite and hate and rage and fire and ash and doom, impending doom, eternal doom…
Drama queens. Is this a Liverpool game? Them supporting us. All this boils down to is us and Manchester City. If we lose, Tottenham are level on points with us. Manchester United will be three points behind. Then we’d have to beat Hull. Who says we’ll beat Hull? Hardly been on fire have we. Why take the chance? We Evertonians care about our own happiness. And if you’re really going to Goodison or watching us on the TV screens hoping we lose, you’re mad. This is our club, our lifeblood, our happy place. Wanting Everton to lose is just wrong. Unless you’re a certain taxi driving social media oddball. I won’t name names. In any case, a point gained against City puts us in the top six and Europe. Everton über alles.
Yeah, but it’s Hull. Hull City Tigers. The face-paint gang. Steve Bruce will pick a team in pure panic so he can still see the teamsheet before his forehead melts over his eyes. We’ll murder them. Everton can end the season in style, finish fifth and see Manchester City grab the title on goal difference. The smallest margin since they did it last time. And the time before that….Thomas….closing in…IT’S UP FOR GRABS NOW! Pipe down McMahon you whopper. Imagine the scenes, eh. Limbs all over the place. Limbs on the streets of London. Limbs on the streets of Birmingham. Limbs on the streets of Carlisle. Dublin, Dundee, Humberside. But don’t hang the DJ. That’s Captain Fantastic’s job.
So what about that eh? Man City grab a win against us, cruise past Villa, batter West Ham, win the league.
So what about that eh? Man City beat us, slip up against Villa or West Ham, Liverpool win the league. And we don’t beat Hull.
So what about that eh? We win, Liverpool lose to Palace, City and Chelsea compete for the title and we finish fifth.
So much happening. The teams should be interesting. Man City will set up strong. Villa’s much less of a challenge than this. Hart could turn up and be the goalkeeping messiah that keeps the Richard Wrights of this world well away from national selection, while Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis and Clichy or Kolarov are a solid unit. Well, the jury’s out on Demichelis. And Kompany too, the big moon-headed Coutinho-feeder. Yaya Toure’s so many levels of boss it’s almost unfair that he’s sharing a pitch with Leon Osman. Fernandinho is a quality asset – would you believe he’s not a dead cert for Brazil? He has struggled to make the squad in the past couple of years. Yeah, Smalling and Welbeck for England Roy. Henderson’s the Messiah.
We haven’t even got to the fun bit yet! Navas is like Aiden McGeady without the distinct feel of 2am kebabs about him. If he can cross a ball it’s goals galore. David Silva is the magic man. Samir Nasri’s back from his lesbian rights rally. James Milner’s sound and I don’t care who knows. We’re having him next year. You know the meme that belongs here. Sergio Aguero(ooooooooooooo) will bag goals. Ah, look at this sh*te bench. Dzeko. Negredo. Jovetic. A couple of the aforementioned midfielders. Micah Richards. Joleon Lescott. Oh yeah, notch one Joles lad. If Alcaraz doesn’t beat you to it.
The Everton team then. Tim Howard, Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman ought to be proud of themselves. They’ve been class. John Stones is oh so close to an England spot and needs to confirm for the umpteenth time that he makes Chris Smalling look (even more) obsolete. And Phil Jagielka’s back! The captain returns to lead the side. McCarthy will have to make do with Osman, who has a decent record against City. Barkley will therefore get to stay in an advanced position, along with Deulofeu and McGeady. Lukaku up front, naturally. And there aren’t many other options.
Pfft. Options. Sander Westerweld, Purple Aki, Oscar Pistorius’ lawyer (knows a sh*te defence when he sees one), the ghost of Sandy Brown, Bryan Oviedo on his crutches, Leon Osman (may as well), Paul Gascoigne and Raoul Moat, Mark Ward, Mark Ward’s parole officer, Apostolos Vellios (who’s much too busy taking selfies). Mikael Madar on the bench, Abu Hamza as reserve in nets. Any other suggestions on a postcard.
Right, that’s enough of that. My personal opinion is – sorry if you disagree – I still want Everton to get something from this game. The threat of Spurs and United shouldn’t be there, but it is. For some reason I still think Tony Pulis will stick two fingers up at Manager of the Year shoo-in and all-round media darling Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers sticks himself in his envelope (and by envelope I may or may not due to legal reasons mean a certain person who may in fact be a man, a woman, or perhaps both in the same lifetime). The fact that’s the only dream left available fills me with morbidity about this season. It needs to end. But when it does we’ll be able to take stock and know we played the togger we’re meant to and went one step beyond. We could do that again. So if we win, get in there. Up the Blues. If we lose, get in there. Up the Blues.
Everton will be back next season, ladies and gents. And if it’s any comfort, these situations only come up once in a Blue Moon.