I have a confession to make. I’m soft. Soft as shite. A complete pushover. Especially when it comes to Everton. Those who know me from Twitter will testify that I’ll make excuses for even the worst Everton players. McGeady has a cross on him. Jo just needs a strike partner. Kroldrup is probably a really nice fella.
Part of this is almost certainly a defence mechanism from coming of age in the Moyes/Kenwright era, the lean years. You pretty much had to accept the flaws of an underperforming player and emphasise the positives because come hell or high water you were stuck with them for the foreseeable. We’ll go with what we’ve got. But those days are over.
As I write this on the coach down to Chelsea, news is filtering through that Kevin Mirallas is in Manchester airport mulling over a “complicated situation”. Alright Kev, don’t get all Morrissey on us. We know you’re on airport time about to sink your third Peroni. The Belgian Press line is he’s flying out to sort a return to his former club Olympiakos. It’s some turnaround from signing a new contract just three months ago.
This situation serves to emphasise a fact that many Evertonians have come to accept and even celebrate in the past few weeks and months. Ronald Koeman is ruthless. If you’re not in his plans, or performing at the level he expects or requires, you’re out. The culling started last season with the jettisoning of Bryan Oviedo, a popular and useful squad player, and Darron Gibson, who also played for Everton. The trend has continued this summer. Gareth Barry has been a tremendous servant to this club, and personally I think he still could do a job for us. But that’s a phrase I don’t think will pass the lips of many Evertonians in the inevitably all too brief Koeman era at L4. “Do a job”. Three short words that speak a thousand in terms of low expectation, resignation and, on the part of the players, complacency. Comfortable in the knowledge their position was secure through necessity, they must surely now be wondering if skipping voluntary double training sessions is even an option any more.
The sight of Kevin Mirallas sat in that departure lounge will send chills down the spine of every Everton player, especially those who have had their feet under the table for years. Here you have a player who had only committed himself to the club until 2020 displaced by two young hungry players with a combined top flight experience of 18 months. Ashley Williams, a Koeman signing no less, is no longer assured of his starting position. Ross Barkley, once considered the indispensable bedrock around which Everton would build their future, now faces leaving the club next year for free with nothing more than a shrug. Welcome to the new age. Get with the programme. The message has been sent loud and clear: you’re all on notice. Shape up or you’ll be shipped out. The reign of terror is here.