Oh, it’s going to be more of the same then is it Everton? Thanks for the heads-up.
That’s right. You wanted football back, and you’re getting football. You don’t get to choose what football you get. Because this is Everton, and you’ve fallen right into the trap you naive bastard.
On the pitch, it was turgid, it was disastrous, and in the end we were made to be satisfied with something we would have taken as a disgrace before 3 o’ clock on Saturday afternoon. Of course, the satisfaction wore off, even though the delirium at Arouna Kone scoring a goal extended that a little, and it was replaced by the sort of reaction that suggests Jeremy Kyle might spot the opportunity to do a live show at Goodison some time soon.
It would be easy, and frankly quite lazy, to say that the players didn’t care. It’s obvious they do care, for professional pride if not a deep-seated love for all things Everton. The effort was present but the creative spark was gone. We used to have the magic, back when Mikel Arteta coasted round the midfield and Steven Pienaar had legs, but basically we’re a bunch of Muggles now. Ross Barkley is technically brilliant, and that goal was your regulation Barkley belter, but he desperately needs to visit the Wizard of Oz and ask for a football brain. It is also up to the wide players to keep moving, especially if the likes of Seamus Coleman is looking to overlap, and provide a constant outlet. Kevin Mirallas drifted in and out of the game, and while Tom Cleverley has the enthusiasm of a puppy he also has the same nous. It seems as if Roberto Martinez has a sophisticated game plan that does not work in reality, and expectations of the players that they just cannot match. It is for that reason that Lukaku needs constant support, McCarthy and Barry need wide players to find, and the defenders need an outlet to avoid the ridiculous mistakes that cost us goals.
Naturally there is a great deal of angst with the on-field performances. Drawing against the team most likely to finish bottom, and at Goodison to boot, is not impressive at all. Yet laying into the players is in the end superficial. It’s lambasting a group of employees (yes, employees. Welcome to modern football) who are paid to represent the club and try to do so to the best of their ability. The manager, often considered the most expendable resource of all, is not the answer. Yes, we could sack Roberto Martinez and bring in another manager who has a different way of doing things, but the honeymoon would eventually end, as it always does. Booing the players and manager and trying to identify individuals as scapegoats will not solve any problems. What is rotten at Everton goes right to the core.
To start with, other clubs are spending freely, knowing full well that a massive TV deal will come into effect next season. Some clubs are even gambling with money they are not assured of yet, but they are doing so in the knowledge that by strengthening the squad they can cement a place in the most lucrative division in the history of football. Everton have failed to do that. Instead, we have looked to maintain the status quo, retaining top players while looking to eradicate some of our debt. It’s horribly conservative, and Evertonians have never favoured conservative behaviour with either a big or little C. The squad is threadbare, that much is painfully obvious, but not much is being done. Understandably that is a cause for concern.
It goes on. Transparency is all fans want, and yet next to nothing comes out of a club that seems happy to pretend everything is hunky-dory when it is clear that simply isn’t the case. There must be a commercial side to every football club, and Everton are lagging behind. The main sponsorship deal, with Chang Beer, will earn in four years a fraction of what Man Utd will get in one year with their new deal. Man Utd we are not, but again Everton are standing still. The club is well and truly at an impasse. On-field success has a nasty habit of masking what goes on behind the scenes – after all, you won’t every hear Chelsea fans slamming their club’s off-field actions. In lieu of that the Everton board is directly in the firing line. And so it should be. Players and managers will come and go, and they’ll do it even quicker and with less quality if the groundwork isn’t in place. Change is needed, and the people form the true catalyst of change.
But it won’t work if Evertonians are going to be as fractured as they are now. Some seem painfully delusional, believing everything will sort itself out. Others are polar opposites, abusing everyone and everything they can. The fans who actually booed Seamus Coleman for a backwards pass or those who booed Arouna Kone when he came on (he piped them right down, the beautiful ice cream-headed bastard) are ridiculously negative. Some have rallied to have meetings about the welfare of the club, but their aims are destructive and they are going down paths that will not actually see change come about. There is one good solution, and that is the fans coming together to discuss our vision for the club. Not dismissing opinions we do not agree with, but finding compromise. Having an EGM, not flying banners over stadiums. Boycotting football matches en masse is not possible nowadays so mass action has to be carefully planned if it’s going to happen. Remember, we all want to see Everton as a strong club on and off the pitch, one that wins trophies and brings in players that can inspire the masses. This should be something that brings us together, and under the banner of Nil Satis Nisi Optimum, not anything else.
But I’m just a previewer here, what do you care what I have to say? It’s all about the players on the pitch, and seeing as we all want them to do well we may as well prove it by cheering on those who pull on that royal blue.
And we’ve got-oh, Southampton away. And what? Leighton Baines is out for a little short of forever? Positives, positives…makes you appreciate home more when you turn up in that scruffy port city. We’ve got a poor record down there as well, with no win in Southampton since 2002 – that’s one of just two Premier League wins away at the Saints. Roberto Martinez’s jaunts down there have resulted in lacklustre 2-0 and 3-0 defeats as well. Last season’s 3-0 defeat at St Mary’s was the worst time had at the south coast since the Tories decided Brighton would be the perfect place to have a party conference.
They’ve gone down a different road to us. They have sold their best players, but in their place have come a raft of replacements that have pleased the hipsters from the off and the fans after a bit of time. I so knew Dusan Tadic was great, like, way before he was famous mate. Out have gone Bale, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chambers, Clyne, Lambert, Lallana and Schneiderlin, but in have come Forster, Wanyama, Tadic, Pelle, Mane and many many more. The Southampton board have made sure jolly local Scout group leader Ronald Koeman has plenty of money to replace his departed stars and the new blood rewarded him last season, leading Southampton to 7th. It’s a system that can infuriate fans, but not if the players continue to do the business on the pitch. And at the moment they are. It’s tough not to like this team, although it’s a bit easier to dislike the fans when they’re called Chaz and they reckon UKIP actually had a lot going for them.
Forster is injured so on-loan Fulham mercenary Maarten Stekelenburg is in goal, with a defence of hipster’s delight Cedric Soares or even Cuco Martina (yeah, y’know, from the Runcorn Martinas. That’s him). Jose Fonte will be at the heart of the defence with Maya Yoshida, who can only score against Everton, and maybe even youngster Matt Targett. Look at that, another young lad. What a stand-up bunch, pride of Britain, British kids for British jobs, DAMN FOREIGNERS-no, fuck off Chaz. The ever-dependable Steven Davis and midfield battleaxe/Twitter softarse Victor Wanyama will play in midfield, with Tadic and Mane out wide. And…WHAT’S THIS SORCERY? TWO STRIKERS??? Heathens. Wax model striker Graziano Pelle joins either Jay Rodriguez or Shane Long. A bench full of hipsters’ choices and GOOD SOLID BRITISH YOUNG LADS. Good side. Gonna be tough this.
So Tim Howard in net for the Everton. Didn’t get near anything last weekend so a save or something might be nice. Given Baines’ age and consistent injury issues it’s time to think of life after the mulleted assist king, and that starts with either Oviedo or Galloway at left back. Stones and Jagielka in the middle, Coleman on the right, forever and ever, amen. Barry and McCarthy as the two defensive midfielders in the centre, may that end soon, cheers Satan. Could we have two wingers? Deulofeu and Mirallas on opposite wings? Is that a thing? Maybe, and maybe Barkley will be in behind Lukaku. But Cleverley and Kone played well last week and it would be hard to begrudge them a place in the team. So it’ll be Osman then. Everton eh.
The first away day of the season and we’ll set a precedent by getting plenty down for what is a tough encounter. All we, the fans, can do right now is cheer on the side. Maybe they’ll deliver. And maybe we’ll bring about the change we need to secure a brighter future for this club we love more than a cool beer on a hot day. Not that they make our lives easy, mind. But that’s the Everton life, and you signed up for it. Come what may, you’ll still be backing that lot in royal blue come the weekend.
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum. We could all do with a bit more of that.