“We’re in the fourth round of the FA Cup, yay! Time to praise our club for being victorious and starting us off on our adventure to Wembley this year! And-” oh no, wait, I’m an Everton fan. “Everton LABOURED to eke out a victory against a much lesser side and squeeze into the hat for the next round, probably to get drawn against the Shite away, what’s the point of anything”. Yeah, it wasn’t pretty but at least we have a positive result. Plus we don’t have to go to the other side of the country for a replay or get knocked out ourselves. Small steps and that.
It’s pretty obvious to anyone that we’re in a bit of a rut right now which everyone expected for Silva’s first season, but are calling for him to be fired anyway. With that in mind, we welcomed Lincoln City who are cruising at the top of League 2 at the moment and eager to replicate their trip to the Quarter Finals a couple of years ago when they were still non-league. Obviously, their team and the 5,000 or so fans who came cross-country to support them were a bit more up for this one. Can I say too, their crest is fucking terrifying and I’m hoping Everton also have some wood cutting of a demon on their kits soon. Beats having a lock-up for cows.
As expected, Marco made a couple of changes for this one, with some of the regulars on the bench just in case we Everton it up. We got to see Leighton Baines again – I’m a big fan of Digne but I still love Bainesy, the Britpop wannabe. If he’s not here next year I’m sure he’ll quit the football and go on tour with that little kopite Miles Kane. Had no idea about the Lincoln team but I guessed like most lower league teams they had a striker that’s about 7ft, over 35 and has a beer gut. Maybe we should get Cenk on the Maximuscle.
The game needed a quick start to avoid the stagnation and panic setting in from a 37,000 crowd. People have been crying out for Lookman to start more games, his eagerness to bomb forward more often than the US Army. He found some space for himself after 12 minutes and Baines showed what he still has by pinging a cross right onto his head. Fortunately, the ball crossed the line before the Lincoln defender managed to Phil Neville it. It was 2-0 a couple of minutes later, Bernard cooly chipping over the keeper after Sigurdsson and then Calvert-Lewin passed it through their defense. Piece of piss, this FA Cup lark. Tell me ma, and all that.
The expectation was that we’d crack on and win eleventy-nil or something, but that’s just not Everton’s scene. On the 28th minute, a decent free kick into the box evaded everyone and had Mina and Zouma marking each other for some reason, before it was tucked away by Bostick. Another scrappy goal conceded at the back, and they would have been practicing for that all week. Our median age for the back two and Pickford is in the early 20s, so there’s something to be said for lacking experience back there, but it’s not like they’re new to football, like. Just like that, we were panicking again.
If you’ve ever had anxiety, you’ll know that it works in a cycle. From a trigger, negative thoughts fuel feelings and behaviours that fuel those bad thoughts, and so on. When the team makes a mistake, like a shit defensive error or misplacing a crucial pass, the noise coming down from the pitch can make the players overthink or worry about things, leading to more errors, and the cycle continues. There was some debate this week about the crowd and what we can do for the club, and to be fair I was in the camp of ‘we’ll cheer when we have something positive to see’, which was a little misguided. I’m not saying get in those plastic clappers or an Ultras section, but maybe don’t sigh and mutter like you’ve just stepped in dog shit whenever Tom Davies misplaces a pass, or cheer when Walcott gets brought off. Doesn’t help things, that. Moan all you like in the boozer afterward, by all means. Just try and help break the cycle.
We managed to get to the half keeping ourselves 2-1 up, where Marco made a double change to try and shore up the game. This seemed to work, and we were less anxious in the game with Andre Gomes controlling things nicely in the midfield. This was a game that hopefully get him back into the swing of things, along with Bernard and Lookman. Sans a penalty shout for the 5th Beatle and a late push by Lincoln to force the replay, Everton managed to get past the line without too much trouble. Job done, great news, right Blues?
There are quite a few problems all over the pitch that still need dealing with, and I doubt they’re all getting sorted this transfer window. It would have been good to close out the game without having to resort to our overtired starting 11. And the lapse in concentration leading to the goal highlight the problems we’re having mentally at the moment. That said, we managed to recover after that and go on to win the game. Fulham and Leicester couldn’t manage to do that against League 2 teams this weekend. Let’s take solace in that and keep cracking on. We actually have more than a couple of days before our next match, so we might see a better Everton against Bournemouth. Right now, though, wins are enough. Nil Satis and all that.