There’s that distinct whiff of Everton in the air again. The occasional stench that can both caress and assault your senses. Only this time it’s infused with a rare musk indeed: widespread optimism. Save for a few edgy texans on twitter who want to be top arl arse critics, but that’s how we roll.
So much has happened since we last corresponded, hung parliaments, some bad stuff, some good stuff – and them tricky toffs spending the the thick part of £100 million pounds, and trying to spend more. It’s fair to surmise that it’s been a weird ol’ summer.
We’re back early too because of Europa League qualifying so this won’t be the usual long tedious preview format, just a few words to cover both legs. To shake off the cobwebs in readiness for Stoke – the filthy mutants – but because mostly my laptop is fucked and I’m typing this painfully on an iPad.
There’s been a load of words wrote on the main Everton talking points – all the new expensive signings – so there’s no need for a blow by blow analysis round these parts. As Everton currently ponder signing a top toeying Icelandic lad for another £50m it almost makes you forget the £20m/£30m June signings and consider them a fair price. Which is kind of the obscure point I’m trying to make. This summer market prices have been set largely by Everton. Pickford at £30m, Keane and Klaassen around £25m. Then selling Lukaku for £75m + £15m add ons.
It’s ludicrous money of course but because it was done boldly, and crucially early, it’s set the market going rate for others. Like we’re suffering now with Sigurdsson. But we have the funds to splurge it while a lot of our peers can’t keep up. We’ve got most of our players in but they haven’t, and they’re gonna be more expensive because of us. Not sure if that was a planned strategic side effect but in ultra competitive markets the winners are those usually identifying and acting upon slight competitive edges over others.
Of course all these signings could mean shit if they don’t work. Look at the great kopite goldrush of the past 27 years, and to a lesser extent bellends like Newcastle and free spending Leeds around the same time. Even Aston Villa and QPR “had a go” and all have failed. Remember signing Cottee, Nevis, McCall, McDonald. John Collins, Matarazzi, Dacourt. Splurges of signings win you column inches and garner optimism but when you analyse it all you’ll find most fail.
Feels ace though so fuck it, and right up the Bramley Billionaires.
If you’re attending Goodison on Thursday you will notice it’s a sell out for not even the final qualifying round. To put that into a little bit of context do you remember the last European game at Goodison? Against Dynamo Kiev, attendance of 30,000. Season tickets this year could have been sold a few thousand more, exciting times in L4. Spend it and they will come.
So what about our opponents? Fuck knows. They’re from what looks like the jarg alps and as third best team in Slovakia we should be putting them away. I reckon some Brann fans were saying similar things, more so after taking a 1-0 away win back home and yet it’s not them in the next round.
I don’t profess to know a lot about Slovakia and the little I do know is based on a barman friend a few years ago who hailed from there. I’ve drank a local raki style drink – that’s always branded as hangover free but all them European types all say that about their local liquor – and also apparently Slovakian girls are the prettiest in Europe – but again all of continental Europeans say that, the sleazy VHS making fucks. Where’s your Fake Taxi?
Slovakia for those who can remember a divided Europe is for all intents and purposes the Andrew Ridgeley of Czechoslovakia. Since the amicable 80s break up you’ll see more hankering over George Michael’s Prague but seldom over Bratislava. Although playing Slovakian teams is a good omen for Everton in Europe, like Inter in Oct/Nov 1984.
And that’s it really which is shite/ignorant on my behalf. There’s giant swathes of Slavic land out there with some I’m sure great places to visit but to draw a sort of parallel – how many foreigners bother with Lancashire, which is a sort of comparison on a parochial scale? Although I want to state that the Slovakians will naturally have much better dress sense, personal hygiene and technology than Lancashire does. Less mullets too. There’ll be a whiff of ultra behaviour I’m sure but that shouldn’t detract from Everton in obscure ace European outposts and 80p pints.
How will Everton approach this then?
I’m sure there’s a database at Ronko’s fingertips with all sorts of fitness data on his players, you’d think that will be a major consideration. I reckon there’ll be a continuation of the 4-3-3 for now anyway.
Lukaku and his consistent truck load of goals are going to be hard to replace, no matter which side of the debate you were on, but point of order that we need no more players who may suffer from a bad case of “Belgian bitch tongue”, a disease of which there’s no cure and only worsens with time and prolonged international duty.
The Croxteth lad came back and time will tell how that works out but taking the emotion out of it or your own personal stance (each to their own) and it looks a savvy deal, but we still need more up front. Probably too early for Ramirez to start although I’m looking forward to him hitting balls so sweet that Bolasie calls them “peng”. So the likes of Lookman, Calvert-Lewin, Dowell and co will fancy a sniff of this. Pleasing to see a conveyor belt of young lads to step in too. But will it be enough?
We’ve got some serious sex options in midfield with Schneiderlin, Gueye and take your pick for one of the others. Klaassen is an option although he needs to sort that hair out before groups of middle aged men start turning up on it with metal detectors. Davies is ace and will hold his own in this brave new Everton world and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Barry used as a sub to strangle control of games if he remains. Throw McCarthy and maybe Besic into the mix and if games are won in midfield then there’s enough there to handle a potential Thursday/Sunday slog this season.
Hopefully Williams has burned off his all inclusive Bahamas belly at the back and it looks fairly nailed on that Michael Keane will be in there, looks a player him too. We’re short at full back but you’d guess Baines and Martina, with a faint hope that Jonjoe Kenny gets a chance and belongs. Pickford with his This Is England grid may have returned a little too late to make this but if whoever we put in goal has a busy night then I fear for our Thursday evening plans this season.
At least Koeman – no more face comparisons this season – has an array of options to choose from. Being the most tactically flexible manager we’ve had for beards then hopefully this enables more ways of winning games and less focus on the fact that Koeman looks like the lead in a low budget TV edition of Eskimo Dallas.
So, breathe it all in. See you in a couple of weeks hopefully.
Just don’t Everton, alright.