So it’s all started up once again. Truthfully, other than a couple months of aimless Saturday mornings here in the US, I’m not sure when it is that Everton actually stops for me. Everton Twitter has scarred my retinas, undoubtedly. (He laments as he wonders just how many of his local friends/followers/family have him on “Mute” because of our soul-crushing Blues…)
An American writing for Everton Aren’t We? What a time to be alive, eh? And while you preemptively lament the progressive decay of one of your most sacred online institutions, just remember that with the club’s growth and increased exposure (and of the sport in general) there were always going to be odd cats like me from across the sea who would—for reasons they can’t always justify or even remember—choose to adopt this beautiful blue curse called Everton.
It’s happening. It’s happened. American Evertonians–for reasons that range from love of mediocre USMNT internationals to the desire we innately have to find something worth cherishing that makes us utterly miserable most of the time–love this club. I’ve been riding the sad train with you loveably bleak lot for thirteen years now and have decided that since there are no Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind options out there, I might as well have no regrets about any of it. So here we are.
Now as I was saying, it’s all started. And I watched the game on Saturday and took it all in and tried to figure out what it is this team needs to be at the moment. Fundamentally, this team needs both points and time and I really don’t mind how they get the former while they deal with the transition that requires the latter. So I’m gonna try not to moan about performances when the team has headwinds to deal with on multiple fronts (transfers, getting acclimated to one another, the criminal opening schedule)—even if we mostly agree that the destination is a good one and one we can reach. Super odd thing though about a game where we didn’t feel it was necessarily a great overall performance? I feel like we got lots of really strong individual performances (Rooney, Gueye, Keane, DCL, PICKFORD).
The Rooney goal gave me deep, romantic, nostalgic, 90’s movie feelings. The Pickford save gave me the special tingle.
Klaassen didn’t make a huge impression, but that formation didn’t do him any favors. He’s got to get a little bit more width provided so he can move in and out of the spaces where he poaches chances. Good to see a few people acknowledge his contribution to the goal. His sharp diagonal cut across the box sucked in Zouma who came off of Rooney just before the ball found him wide open. Header. Bang. Rooney. Prodigal son-feeling goosebumps. I’ve watched it a hundred times this week.
But back to Klaassen, whose movement and timing played a crucial part in creating a goal in a game with few chances. And I think this is key to Everton taking the next step:
Can you get players who still do all the other little things that contribute to the success of the team’s attack even on days when they themselves are struggling to get themselves going offensively? Rom is an elite scorer and I loved him and he’s gonna bag 30 this season with United. But if he wasn’t scoring for us, the other aspects of his game didn’t seem to be there either. Could he find ways to make other players around him better on days when he didn’t have his shooting touch? I think the answer was usually “no”. Koeman seems to be playing the odds. Get more guys who can score—even if none are as individually talented as Lukaku. If they all run, work hard, move well off the ball, etc, the odds increase of you finding that goal you need if the burden is spread more evenly. I’ve still got serious concerns about the lack of playmaking and pace in the squad as a whole, but this seems like a solid foundation to build from.
Between Rooney’s vision and Sandro and Klaassen’s willingness to run and cut while off the ball, the IQ of this attack appears to have taken a massive leap forward. And that includes players like Davies and Lookman who will get plenty of minutes this season. Down overall on raw talent with the losses of Lukaku and Barkley, but potentially more effective/efficient on the whole. And that’s without factoring in what Sigurdsson ought to bring to the table.
The Night King is finally upon us. We all said that thing about how it was taking so long that by the time it got announced we wouldn’t even be that excited. But guess what? You were totally off your tits excited, you jerk. That extra money Everton saved feels like a victory, YOUR victory—just a little bit—even though it has no right to. You’re a blue. You deserve this meritless sense of triumph. Drink it in real hard. Real arrogant like.
So like I was saying, this is such a hard-working squad. And so much more disciplined. All things that evaporated under Martinez. Whatever quibbles I have regarding Koeman’s team selection and maddening “anti-wing” machinations are easier to live with because of the aforementioned positive traits. They give a strong squad whose overall talent level ought to steadily improve a chance to win more of these matches that have increasingly become draws over the years.
I think I would take Ryan Shawcross over either Jagielka or Williams right now.
The more you watch DCL, the easier it is to begin to understand why Koeman rates him. He’s quick, physical, hard working. His skill isn’t elite, but it’s better than average. He does a lot of things well even if he doesn’t do one thing great just yet. And having said all that, I echo Koeman’s sense of urgency about getting in his remaining targets–a big, striker is an absolute must. Maybe DCL can be more dangerous as a substitute luxury instead of being relied upon as a starter. Bring DCL and his physical nuisance-y ways onto the pitch in the 70th minute to bully tired defenders around. A few sprinkles of shithousery and DCL will be my favorite player on the team.
I wish Giroud aspired to be more than a super-sub at Arsenal. He’d start league games regularly with us. AND could still be an impact sub in Europa games. What a handsome enigma.
You get the sense that Keane and Pickford will both be justifiable shouts for MOTM nearly every time out. Keane is a behemoth back there. He’s more giant than I thought. I hoped that in Keane we were getting someone comparable to Jags in his prime. I can already say I’m pretty sure I’ve vastly underestimated his ceiling.
Martina is an average right back with the ability to pick out a nice cross every once in a while. We can do better long term of course, but he’s not the unmitigated disaster many of you weirdos make him out to be.
And for those of you in the JJK cult (I’m a regular visitor to the compound), you ought to ask yourself why—if JJK is SO good AND the most like Coleman (a player Koeman seems to rate)–he didn’t sniff the first team last Saturday in a match where a centre forward played as the right wing back? There’s something we’re not seeing. Or maybe it’s something Koeman’s not seeing. It feels like there’s a Garbutt/Coleman fork in the road.
👀 | Look who's here… pic.twitter.com/iAcnN5SSn4
— Everton (@Everton) August 16, 2017
Gareth Barry. Great for us. And him going to WBA was apparently the potent suppository this Sigurdsson bowel blockage needed to resolve itself. Happy trails, English Dr. Jack Shephard!
Until next time, kids. The ride’s about to get bumpy. Giddy up.