Extensive scientific research has shown that any burgeoning Everton momentum must be crushed in a manner befitting of Tiananmen Square. So forgive me if Everton winning 3 games in a row and going to Old Trafford invokes a sense of guarded pragmatism.
Sure, I note a wee verve about the team and a (heavily invested) smattering of quality but habits are hard broken in royal blue. It was the Spanish philosopher George Santayana who aptly muttered “habit is stronger than reason”, but then perhaps he hadn’t seen Andre Gomes play.
Everton got to within a few minutes of drawing at home to Crystal Palace but then something good happened, namely Everton found a way to win through aggressive tactical moves. That doesn’t really happen much but that it did this time is heartening. It’s no Kevin Brock back pass but it won’t stop a fanbase starved of enthusiasm enjoying every little morsel of positive Everton vibes. With the positive Everton left soundly policed by the negative Everton right, maybe.
Why is everything so fucking polarised now anyway? Is it possible to be cautious somewhere in the middle – a Paul Bracewell if you will – just doing the simple things well. A footballing moderate. Moderate views not sexy enough anymore? And why do the simpletons get a platform (*irony noted) to speak on behalf of seemingly others? It’s like a % of the ardent Trump fans. You can tell that they’re following him because he simplifies the world for them. They’re the bullies who turn into adults and despise losing control because they can’t assert dominance by offering someone out after school. It’s usually coupled by crippling awareness into adult years that they’re nothing but gigantic biffs. So they try and feed their ego by claiming superiority by means of identity, or invent devious conspiracies to excuse their continual failure. Suddenly – and how the fuck it happens needs to be studied to prevent reoccurrence – there’s a king biff empowering them and they feel a worth last experienced when they set a small lad’s shirt on fire on the final day of high school. Call it populism, call it anti intellectualism, but I call it bigoted knobheads who deserve incessant ridicule until the grave.
Ignore the knobheads. But then if you did you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
Onto Man Utd who haven’t been playing well (you know what’s next) containing a misfiring Everton striker who hasn’t scored in 8 games (you vividly know what’s next) and an under fire Mourinho whose spiteful sulky indignation at an Everton win there would be the most fucking delicious Sunday. No chance. Take the 2-0 dip now.
Marco Silva was saying all the right things in the press conference (anyone calling it a presser is a twat) on Friday before the game, urging Everton to play without fear. And he’s dead right, while United do have better players than Everton the quality gap has closed and it’s the home team feeling the pressure to get out there and do a job. On evidence this season it’s a pressure they’ve been unable to cope with, or unwilling to at least until Mourinho is punted and they’ve got a new manager to impress.
There’s a rivalry between our respective cities and there’s absolutely nothing I can add to it that you don’t already know. Proximity, history and culture have whipped up a steady mix of toxicity in the relationship stirred by the partisanship of football. Myself I reckon there’s not too much between the two sets of people apart from personal hygiene, fashion sense, male grooming & ear ring fondness, acceptance of first cousins being appropriate sexual conquests, racist comedians, inherent dullness and a keen sense of self deprecating humour. I’ve got a good smattering of Man Utd supporting friends, their distaste for the great unwashed across the park can be somewhat seducing.
They’re a behemoth of an institution financially and support wise, with resources and reach that’s set a benchmark in the Premier League for others to attempt to imitate. It was – ironically – because of this that they were going to be attractive one day to a scheming capitalist pig-dog, and so it proved when they were taken over by the Glazers, capitalised beyond belief and now sit – by their standards – dormant in the top few, whilst clearing a tidy profit for their shareholders every single year as their asset grows. Their ability to manage on pitch matters was always going to be defined by how they replaced Ferguson, and it’s been 5 long years since that happened and no Premier League titles yet. The abundance of resource is negated by the financial peers of Man City and Chelsea so there’s some work to be done lest the muscle memory of 27 year absences grip tight on the psyche.
Here’s some of their players who may play v Everton, or may be injured, retired or sold since I last paid attention to another football team other than those tricky royal blues:
Lukaku – the stroppy Belgian media bitch tongue needs handling as delicately as a bin full of hypodermic needles, which coincidentally the Carrington Farm cleaners must resent removing from his locker – the bad fucking juice head. All said and done though I’d have him back in a flash.
Martial – he’s fucking sound, buy him Moshiri.
Rashford – he’s fucking sound, buy him Moshiri.
Fellaini – can’t put my thumb on why but I miss the big galoot.
Pogba – I sit in marvel as each passing week takes him one step closer to real life Ruby Rhod from The Fifth Element.
Young – I’ll never forget the diving shithouse when he was at Aston Villa, hurt him. Incidentally remember all those sloth voiced Aston Villa fans looking down their noses at us because of Randy Lerner and Martin O’Neill? Unlucky lads.
Shaw – “Alexa – show me a fat little millennial ewok”
De Gea – when Real Madrid come calling for him, you’ll be sweating over Pickford.
Onto Everton and despite the subs being instrumental in the previous game I cannot see any changes to the starting line up. Mainly because those attacking the final third may be suited to this type of away game. Right up until the point Lukaku slams home the third and starts taunting the away fans, then we’ll be all dead mardy over Silva not selecting Tosun and Lookman. So Richarlison, Bernard and Walcott to start. But it’s good to see others on the bench pressure them with the most valuable commodity of goals.
The 3 in the middle should then be Sigurdsson – for which a big stage is nicely set – the impressive Gana Gueye and Andre Gomes. The latter enjoyed a decent debut that was understandably rusty at times but classy hints of much more to come. I’m not quite ready to hail the second coming until they’ve, well, dominated a Man Utd midfield at Old Trafford. Go get that prize.
Defence and goalkeeper won’t change which will see Zouma and Keane have the opportunity to level up against a talented United attack. Michael Keane is returning to his formative club and responding really well to Silva’s management, right now he’s a defensive first pick. It was always going to be a difficult job to replace Leighton Baines but that no one is pining for him thus far is a testament to Digne’s start at Everton. Coleman will resume at right back and fuck me if Jordan Pickford isn’t the best investment ever made by Moshiri and I include any sort of steel and mining in that equation.
This game is live on Sky Sports against a backdrop of a must win for Mourinho. It’s going to be fucking agonising watching because of the amount of times the narration surrounding it make your toes meet hit your shins in an upwards arcing motion. It’s a noxious potion, that usually throwing Everton directly into ruins many a Monday. Maybe our man George Santayana had awareness of Everton when he also said “wisdom comes through disillusionment”.
Fuck all that though, I just want to see Everton have a right go.