Local lads playing for Everton is boss. That is something that can never be disputed. When Scousers, particularly Everton supporting Scousers, come up through the ranks, it brings you back to the beautiful basics of football that we all hold dear. It means more.
Last year it was Tom Davies’ turn to make his name in a blue shirt. The golden flowing locks, the down to earth attitude, the socks round his shinnies, it was impossible not to fall in love at first sight. That goal and all round performance against City, single handedly bumming a talented and experienced Pep Guardiola-managed midfield, was a biblical sight to behold. Although he hasn’t set the league alight this season, we all know there’s a top player in there. And importantly, he’s got the backing of the fans, who hopefully have learned from the Barkley-bashing and now understand its probably not productive to mercilessly slag off an out of form player who’s trying his best in an underperforming team.
This years Scouser to get his chance in the first team is one Jonjoe Kenny. After some impressive pre-season displays, and Seamus Coleman’s unfortunate leg bending incident, a lot of Blues were agitating for JJK to be put into the team in place of Coleman right from the off. Koeman went for Martina and Holgate initially, which was understandable at the time, but following Koeman’s binning off, David Unsworth backed one of his u23 title winners to the hilt and he has since become a mainstay in the side.
At a time when it seemed most had downed tools, given up on winning games and getting results, Kenny persisted. As a young player, he was of course found wanting in some areas. But in a team that has done an awful lot of defending both in the dire first 12 games of the season and our current hot streak, JJK has done his job and then some.
Think back through our recent games. How many times has Kenny had to deal with a cross to the far post from the right wing, under pressure from an attacker, and managed to head the ball out of danger? How many times has he stood his attacker up, taken him down the line and made a strong tackle to halt an opposition attack? Without getting too statistical, Opta data suggests it is in the region of a fuck load. In an era of flying attacking full backs, Kenny went back to basics when the team needed more solidity at the back, and he has been a massive part of the recent league run which has seen us concede just 1 goal in our last 4 games.
That said, when called upon to go forward and help the attack, Kenny has proved more than capable. Although not a Seamus Coleman who can take on and beat a man, Kenny’s intelligent movement down the channels, particularly in link up play with Aaron Lennon, has created several opportunities for us over the last few games, and he has also provided a (100%-intentional-no-miskick-involved) assist for Wayne Rooney’s 2nd goal against West Ham.
Jonjoe Kenny really does care about Everton. His entire attitude since coming into the team has embodied what we want from an Everton player. He works hard all game every game, he rallies and keeps his head up when things get tough, and he respects the fans. Not many players would have the balls to go over to the fans after a 4-1 away defeat, but Kenny did.
His celebrations when we score are great, aren’t they? He celebrates like we do in the stands: fists clenched, jumping around, shouting, and a massive grin on his face. In the good times and the bad, the kid loves playing for Everton. We need characters like that in the team. Players who have emotion, not just an eye on their pay packets, invested in this club, and in the fans who turn up every week to support them. If you watch the clip of Rooney’s penalty against The Mighty Redmen™, you can hear JJK shouting in delight above the noise of the crowd. So many of us have grumbled about players who have come through the door and not been arsed about Everton. Jonjoe Kenny is arsed.
His shithousery against Newcastle was the cherry on the cake for me and every single person who watched the game. The lad actually pretended not to know where the ball was after it was thrown to him from about a meter away. Boiling Geordie piss is always a great event in itself, but the focus on ensuring Everton won on Wednesday night was what was behind that Oscar winning performance, and hopefully it will be what keeps Jonjoe Kenny in the Everton team for years to come. In his own words: we are Everton. We shouldn’t fear anyone.