Well, that’s one down. Just the 39 (minimum) to go.
The Ronald Koeman show has rolled into town and given its first performance, and it’s fair to say that the buzzword is “promising”. We realised that there is a long, long way to go until we see the finished article, but at least at last it seems we’re heading in the right direction. While it’s too soon to tell, and if you want to see a false dawn then the 2013/14 season review is available on DVD and YouTube, we could be making our way to the top with a plan in place to stay there for good.
Spurs were good opposition, not at their best but boasting plenty of talent, and in the first half they barely got a sniff. An early goal, not conceding an early equaliser, and looking good value for the lead despite not winning the possession all equated to the makings of a fantastic performance. From the start of the second period we then proved why Ronald Koeman said we were at 70%, and dropped off. THAT’S RIGHT. AN EVERTON MANAGER DIDN’T UNDERSTATE OR OVERSTATE MATTERS, TOLD THE HONEST TRUTH, AND WAS PROVED CORRECT.
Brave new world, people.
The Spurs match, plus the club stepping things up in the transfer market, has allowed some much-needed optimism to seep in. Cringeworthy Twitter antics aside, Ashley Williams is a superb addition to the back line and while Yannick Bolasie may not justify the price tag, who really does? How can one person even justify that sort of expenditure nowadays, without inspiring hundreds of millions of shirt sales? Let him play. He will have great games and awful games, like any winger. His crossing will be suspect, like any Everton winger. Stekelenburg was excellent against Spurs – worth remembering that he is still an international goalkeeper with lots of top class experience, despite being third choice at Fulham behind Marcus Bettinelli and that Michael Jackson statue. And Idrissa Gueye had a fantastic debut, his all-action style meaning we had a real midfield presence.
What the match on Saturday also provided was an opportunity for Ronald Koeman to see exactly how the squad needed reinforcing. Erwin Koeman spoke of the need for a big squad and lots of competition, which was conspicuous only in its absence last season. Seamus Coleman’s injury was a reminder that in positions such as his, there is not much depth. James McCarthy however proved in his absence that he might still have a future at the club under a manager who likes energy and a high work rate from his midfielders. But what do you know? Koeman’s out talking to the media about the fact we’re keeping an eye out for players who can provide competition at right back.
And if you’re cryarsing because the Echo’s off selling Lukaku again, calm down. If Koeman didn’t have a contingency plan for Lukaku going as well as staying he’d be a naïve fool. Probably one who says “phenomenal” a lot.
Before Mr Moshiri starts lashing the cash about like he’s in Popworld on payday, let’s get on to the next game.
West Brom it is, and while they’re mostly an inoffensive team with an inoffensive fanbase, there’s a couple of gripes here. Firstly, we’re running head-on into a game of Pulisball, which results in a drab 1-1 more times than not. Him and his perma-glare, like he keeps spotting his wife winking across the room at someone. Then there’s the bouncing. Grown men and women yelling “boing boing!” is right up there with the tiger face paint at Hull and Kopites doing…well, pretty much everything they do.
Foster in goal for them, very much their John Ruddy in that you wonder why he’s not at a bigger club until the inevitable proof comes. Two major grocks in defence, Olsson and Dawson, with McAuley and Evans filling the gaps. James McClean is too busy making yer da’s head fall off COLLECTING THE QUEEN’S MONEY on the bench, so Matt Phillips will be tasked with keeping Leighton Baines penned in. Fletcher, Gardner and Grock Number Three Claudio Yacob. Salomon Rondon has the quality to notch up a fair few goals this season, so watch out for him. Saido Berahino was linked with Spurs last season and Stoke this, and it’s no less than he deserves. Rickie Lambert on the bench if we all fancy a laugh.
On to us then. Stekelenburg in net, hopefully set to continue the form he showed at Goodison last weekend. Whether we shuffle the formation remains to be seen, though Ashley Williams should come in for Mason Holgate, who looks like he’ll do just fine getting first team experience here and there and developing as a player. Funes Mori and Jagielka in the middle with Williams, McCarthy and Baines flanking them. Gueye and Gareth Barry in the middle, with Bolasie and Deulofeu up top. Unless Lukaku’s fit, in which case Bolasie may take a place alongside Mirallas on the bench. Looks like there’s options. Don’t get too excited mind, Koné is still in the squad.
Shorter preview this week, and it could’ve been even shorter. If I’d kept to saying that last week showed potential and hopefully we’ll continue on the right path by leathering this absolute 14th-place fodder, that would’ve saved you some time and boredom. To reduce it even further, watch this space.
Always thrash sides when we’ve got the naff third kit on don’t we? Up the Yellows.