Enthusiasm about Everton is a tentative affair. Many of us wear a mask of self deprivation and loathing towards Everton as a means to lessen the inevitable crushing let down when it comes, but make no mistake deep down a light burns bright and we pour inflammables on it for each and every win. Put a sequence together and, well, the scale of the inferno would have Macron making disparaging comments and Hollywood stars raising awareness about it.
A week in which we lost in a most shite manner to an average Villa and laboured to a win over a lower league Lincoln would have a neutral effect at best on said flame. Lose to a buoyant Wolves on Sunday however and the 4 from 12 points from this most generous of openings will liquid nitrogen any wick.
Aye four league games in and while we’re not quite at the must win stage we are maybe at the must not lose stage, that’s our Everton.
Like seemingly most things in the world there’s a polarisation in some distinct views across our beloved fanbase. Those that recognise the patience of letting a management team get a team together and marry it with their strategy for longer term success, and those who live by NSNO with a steadfast refusal to accept anything other than an all out assault of sexual togger every game, lest we piss on the ghosts of Goodison greats themselves. Of course there’s the vanilla fence sitters like I in the middle, but we’re boring as fuck in this age of high debate and edgy views.
To understand the urgency you’d need to experience the majority clusterfuck of Everton for over thirty years now, save the odd period or two. Those who’ve lived that period have invested patience and watched too many hard luck stories, missed opportunities and at times the outright collapse of Everton trying to build anything that troubles a trophy. When that abject failure reoccurs it saps more and more of any goodwill reserves left. With this being a full quarter century now since Everton last won a trophy it makes it the longest winless sequence in the club’s history, for which a great shame should fall on many who’ve took a good wage from the club.
So this time it’s going to be different right? You may as well lash a full Jerry can on that flame, mate. Either that or reduce yourself to this Everton thing of ours being just a habitual St Domingo’s weekend club for boys, girls or however else you want to identify yourself. A continual opera of highs, lows and mostly mehs that you flock to but feel somehow dissatisfied and mostly because you can vaguely remember Verdi’s Don Carlo Act 4, whereas most weekends now you have to tolerate Timmy Mallet playing an annoying Widow Twankey in Aladdin.
The Lincoln cup game had two objectives in my simple mind: get through to the next round, and that some of the players coming into the team put in performances that elevate then to the first eleven this Sunday. From what I seen only Iwobi, Delph and maybe Tosun achieved that. The team does need a shake up to break the early season malaise so whether that’s through personnel or formation or – cannon caution into the hurricane – maybe even both.
Onto Wolves who had a really good first season up after promotion, playing some great stuff and finishing about Everton. The highest praise I can give Wolves fans is that they didn’t use it as a misplaced platform of sneering at Everton, as a few others have tried to do, before falling back to their natural habitat of lower league shiteness. A club of Wolves’ heritage can stake a claim to top division football as much as most so it’s sound to see them up again fighting the good fight, even if it’s to the detriment of Everton’s ambitions. Competition drives performance for those who are truly equipped and ready.
If you’ve ever been to Wolves I’m sure you found a non offensive working class town with some moody pubs, tremendous fast food options and all things considered quite amicable folk. If we view Premier League fans through the assumed prism of bellend behaviour I’m pleased to state that the West Country folk do well, they’re alright as other fans go.
Everywhere got its foibles so you may also note in your visit to Wolverhampton that their concept of Premier League football is more aligned how Sky sees the league, with staunchness expressed in misplaced shows of passion set amongst a blanket of colours and merchandise. Daz, Baz and “Dirty Jesus” knocking the jaegers in Wetherspoons at 11.32am on match day. “Why do they call you Dirty Jesus, mate?” stretches out arms “because I’m hung like this moite” as you dart your eyes quickly over his shoulder for sanctuary away from the bad ted and lament yourself for even asking the question in the first place.
Wolves, where men reek of testosterone after six units of alcohol. Where their mating techniques are so extravagant and opaque that David Attenborough should narrate over the tannoy in said Wetherspoons. Put your cock away at the bar Jesus, they’ve already warned you once. Wolves, where a gentleman can feel at home in pair of cargo pants on a formal night out. A land where a waft of Invictus marks the territory of predatory alphas. But where the only bottles of Creed belong to the bathroom chiefs and for £4 a squirt are the difference between your bloodline continuing or ceasing, you slow talking peculiar intonation incel, as you return from the bathroom to see one of the many Mumford & Sons lookalikes tucking into that girl you chatting to. This is Wolves, and I prefer them with a few privileged exceptions to pretty much most, as you can surely tell.
Their impressive Manager Nuno Espírito Santo has aged hideously (proof in the photo above) to now resemble every goat herder you’ve waved to from a tour bus, who never waived back, but he’s an astute leader putting together a team of some style and guile, and curiously to Evertonians – making the most of the decent resources available to him from wealthy owners.
They’ve a good bunch of quality players like Jimenez, Neves, Jota, Moutinho and Dendoncker who can hurt the meek with ease, as we found to our chagrin when they give us a chasing at Goody Park last season. They’re on the back of seeing off Torino over legs to qualify for the Europa League group stage so confidence won’t be an issue, whereas hopefully legs from Thursday night may. With Everton being the great exploiter of opportunity of course, give us a gift horse and we’d yank the jaws open to put our head in, before the horse would easily out pace our defence and slide in the decisive third of the game.
With optimism abundant it’s time to take a non value adding but pithy look at who may wear the royal blue for Sunday’s game.
Will Marco Silva do that thing where he sucks his top lip under his bottom lip, the fine watch wearing bastard, and make the change in formation for something that may work over two halves? There’s a possibility that 4-3-3 might surface soon and if so that will change who will play and not, namely Sigurdsson which will enrage at least one person on twitter (I’m a huge fan of their work by the way).
I’ve no idea who will start up front but DCL is in a non scoring phase which is no good for what we need and Kean – as we could tell from the Lincoln game – is gonna need some time to adjust to English football, and will be better utilised from the bench. Step forward Cenk Tosun? Maybe, but probably it will be Calvert-Lewin who needs goals more than pothead teenager. Iwobi has played himself into a starting position with some bright and effective playmaking, but will Bernard be dropped for him? Or might that Sigurdsson role be troubled by his, or Bernard’s, inclusion? The Icelander will start then. Richarlison on the right and hopefully that late goal has broke the seal as we need the talented yet peculiar nosed Brazilian if we’re to start picking up points.
Delph certainly gave food for thought in the middle as we have struggled to find the balance there, not helped by Gbamin hitting the treatment table so early and for so long. Schneiderlin and Gomes isn’t clicking so expect Delph to step in and take one of those roles. Davies isn’t getting near the squad so fuck knows what’s happening there as it’s ominous if he can’t make a stake for this current team.
Defence will be as you expect, Keane and Mina in the middle, Coleman returning for Sidibe and Lucas Digne on the left. I’ve been fretting over Leighton Baines coming to the end of his Everton career for quite some time and truth be told I still do miss him out left because in his pomp he was as good a left back I’ve seen in royal blue. What fucking luck that we found Lucas Digne though, as like for like goes we couldn’t have struck it any better, and there’s no greater compliment than that for Digne. He could meg a trapeze artist and then whip it onto the head of Verne Troyer in a crowd box, of Wimbledon defenders in 1988, with no referee enforcing rules. Put simply he is le sex. Pickford in goal and bonus marks for him rushing the full length of the field to grip one of them Lincoln mutants.
The game precedes the most annoyingly placed international break there is. Momentum is a peculiar beast in football and anything less than 3 points here will fire up the narks for all manner of doubt to be cast on Manager and players. Wolves will be nothing less than a tough game, but one that Everton should not be fearing if they have aspirations like we think they do.
I’d keep both a jerry can and bucket of water out, you’ll be needing one at the final whistle.