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Everton Arent We

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Everton v Man Utd Preview


Welcome to the best year of your life yet.

Put that on a fucking fridge magnet. Thankfully that’s the back of 2017, with an apt ending of a damp squib performance against a relegation haunted team who hadn’t won in 8, but Everton still managing to out shit them. Quite the talent I’m sure you’ll agree.

After bemoaning the pre match angst on social media it turns out all the team-news-canaries down the Everton mine were right as an uninspiring team and defensive midfield of 3 contrived to deny us even the most basic of Allardyce team rights – a comfy 0-0.

Anyway it’s out with the old and in with the new. So I hope that there’s a massive skip outside Goodison now being filled with:

• 22 years of not winning stuff
• Complicating transfers
• Gutless performances souring my weekends
• New players with questionable hairlines
• Glass ceilings
• New managers turning to shit
• Not passing the ball forward
• Split fanbase
• Shite lager options at Goodison
• “Everton that”
• Having to turn sideways to get through the turnstile
• Everton not troubling the top of the table

As long as the in list has Everton being in a much better position 12 months from now and being recognised as the best snide young piss boilers about then I welcome 2018 and all it’s bounty.

Onto Man Utd and they need little introduction, as the greatest English team to have played the game. They’ve pained us something rotten over the years but in this decade at least we’ve had some notable successes against them.

Whenever you’re champions for a sustained period there’s a gigantic collective watchdog organisation, called twitter, which is studying everything your one billion fans say for the slightest whiff of arrogance. And when they find it fuck me it’s put on a gigantic pedestal for all to sneer at. So yes there’s some Man Utd fans who are arrogant and display lamentable entitlement. You’ll perhaps know some more of these than you peers and it will alter your opinion on Man Utd. As luck would have it my circle around me has been filled with pretty much sound Man Utd fans over the years which I’m sure is some sort of one in a billion happening but it’s just how it works out. The United fans I know can vividly remember being utter shite and many of the failures in the “out list” above, it grounded them sufficiently for the birth of the Premier League and what must have felt like a perpetual orgasm since then with all the shite they’ve won. The hardcore support (of which is mainly London, followed closely by Greater Manchester) though still have that propensity to utterly despise their club and I am a big fan of this.

Oh yeah and they also can’t stand the shite.

Naturally they lose points for an away following’s inherent need to chant shit songs throughout any match – laced full of cringey banter. Also major points deducted for copious amounts of denim – top and bottom – on their followings. It wouldn’t be fair to also take points for some startling lacks of personal hygiene. Final point deduction for some of the banners they’ve got lashed around the stadium which wouldn’t be out of place in a 1980s college Ice hockey rink. Tits.

They’ve had a rough ol’ time of it since Alex Ferguson called it a day – symbolised none more so than David Moyes and his chameleon teeth smiling behind the big desk at Carrington Park. That didn’t last long. Nor did Van Gaal, and in came Mourinho.

Mourinho is a tremendous football manager but largely a prick. There’s a deeper discussion out there for if it’s necessary to be both, with some form of study about key alpha behaviour leading a pack of egos and managing the even more delicate egos on your average English football fan. But not in this preview. I’m genuinely forgiving of Mourinho for his services to piss boiling Torpedo BigStand and his steadfast dedication to outing them as the lamentable organisation they are. Warming me nicely up for the cup game on Friday this, if you allow me.

Some of their players:

Lukaku – many had bought a ticket to the New Year’s Day pantomime and I for one am devastated he is likely to miss out on young lids haranguing him and the Park End offering him out. Thanks for the 68 goals Lukaku but you that celebration shit which you pulled at Old Trafford against needs retribution.

Rashford – I really like him and would be dead excited about him if he was ours but loads of United fans take the Everton scrutiny approach to their young players too.

Martial – you know what? I’d rather have Lukaku and Ibrahimovic than him and Rashford running at our defence.

Pogba – he’s really good and has come on loads this season with having Matic to anchor him. Seriously though no one gives a fuck about his hair or his instagram life-porn show. Just kick the ball dead good, that’s all anyone’s arsed about you tithead.

Shaw – wee fat Southampton pixie, run at him.

Rojo – shit tattooed barrio boy, run at him.

Jones – run at him

Dea Gea – best goalkeeper in the world I reckon.

So Everton. Manflu and injuries have caused some rotation over this busy spell of games and it hasn’t worked really. A measly 2 points from 9 sounded the honeymoon over klaxon for largest Samuel, with his face like an untimely vulgar prolapse, and now he’s gonna have loads of lids on his back until Everton start winning, or at least performing.

The defence is much improved, our goalkeeper is sound but that midfield and forward line needs a lot of work. Or new signings, which is staggering considering Everton just spent pretty much £200 million on new players in 2017. Schneiderlin being the first signing and symbolic of the rise and falls of our latest crop.

Until that Turk with the Dick Whittington shoes or whoever else comes in up front then it’s gonna be lashings of Niasse or DCL. Hoping the latter gets some breathing space to develop when they do come in as he’s got a lot about him. I reckon Sigurdsson is wasted a bit on the left but until Rooney’s importance dwindles then where else do you fit him? Lennon gives us exactly what we know he will on the right but all in all there’s just little threat up there. Certainly it’s a case for Lookman and Vlasic to at least get 20 mins here and there you’d think.

Fuck the midfield, I can’t even be arsed thinking about them.

With Keane and Jagielka playing 48 hours earlier I reckon that’s the signal for Williams and Holgate to return – who have been our most solid looking defensive partnership this season. Let’s see if we still think that way after United’s young guns have finished twisting them. Kenny faces another test in a promising season for the Kirkdale kicker and fuck knows what Martina will do at left back but we really need a signing there ASAP. Pickford’s save v Bournemouth was outstanding and it’s shite it counted for nothing. Some day – hopefully not soon – we gonna fret over him being linked away from us.

It’s way too early to be a pivotal game but we really have to not lose this. Which you’d think falls right into gorged Samuel’s expertise. Then again will we even get into their final third? A New Year’s day Goodison crowd will be wanting some snap in the tackles and going after them.

Anyway hope you had a good one, and wishing you and yours much love and happiness for 2018.

All the best. Only the best.

Ship called EFC


The last time Everton had to scrimp and save, they didn’t buy a ship called dignity. They bought Lu-ka-ku. The 53 league goals in 110 appearances that followed, coupled with the 75 (90?) million quid we got for him to flounce his way down the East Lancs will show that to be a superb bit of business. Cast your mind back. We’d had him on loan for a year, Roberto’s first year. It was a time of excitement, of purpose. We had an identity. We were happy to just bring in Gareth Barry on a permanent, Samuel Eto’o on a free, and Muhamed Bešić- modest business, because it meant we got Lukaku, and we were going to build on what went before. The improvement never came, we stagnated, and Martinez was gone within two years. Hopes were raised again when Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri became the major shareholder in early 2016. But things haven’t been smooth sailing aboard the ship called EFC.

Moshiri brought Koeman and Walsh to the club, Koeman arriving with a better win % rate at Southampton than Mauricio Pochettino, and Walsh- not known particularly well to most of us- was widely credited by talking heads as a driving force behind Leicester’s recruitment for their remarkable title winning season.

Now, there’s something to be said for it being difficult to bridge the gap between where we were and what was above. It’s fair to say since buying Man City in 2008, Sheikh Mansour had to buy his share of Gareth Barry’s and Craig Bellamy’s before the likes of Kevin De Bruyne came along. It’s also true to say after two full summer windows (3 including the remainder of the first summer window, having bought City in August 2008), Sheikh Mansour was watching- amongst others- Carlos Tevez, David Silva, Yaya Touré, and Vincent Kompany, who each played a major part in City’s first Premier League title within 4 years, and their lasting success since. Now, for context’s sake, it isn’t fair to expect Moshiri to do anything like what Sheikh Mansour has done- this is in no way a criticism of Moshiri- he doesn’t have those kinds of resources. But by the same token, it means we need to be thoughtful about what we do with our money, because there won’t be an endless pot.

After two full summers between Koeman and Walsh, what does Moshiri have to show for the investment and trust he placed into both? Gueye (7 million), Bolasie (25 million), Williams (12 million), Lookman (7 million), Schneiderlin (24 million), Klaassen (24 million), Pickford (30 million), Keane (25 million), Sandro (5 million), Onyekuru (7 million), Vlašić (10 million), Sigurðsson (45 million). Gueye’s been a good signing, Bolasie has been injured- but whether he would ever have proven worthy of his price is iffy, Onyekuru- who knows? Pickford has done well. The rest? Williams form has had more downs (and the occasional up) than yer da’s foray into the Forex market on the trading app on his new phone. Lookman and Vlašić? Neither deemed worthy of any meaningful minutes in a dreadful season. Vlašić has seen the pitch for 10% of league minutes we’ve played, Lookman? 8%. Schneiderlin? The lad who’s literally made more statements on his Instagram about not being sent home from training than he’s managed to make on the pitch in the best part of a year. Oh, and while we’re at it- accepting the offer to piss off inside if you’re not taking training seriously doesn’t make you less of a prick because you haven’t technically been sent home from training & it speaks volumes that your media performance since that episode to try and save face only ranks about 15th in your list of embarrassing performances this season. Unprofessional dickhead. Klaassen? Who scouted him? He’s got a brain, but did they think his complete lack of athleticism wasn’t going to become apparent in the Prem? I don’t know quite what to make of Keane yet, hopefully the new manager can get him back to basics, but he’s moved like a fridge-freezer for some opposition breaks/goals – more than I’d frankly care to see from my centre-half. Sandro- they don’t know what to do with him- again, who scouted him? They haven’t had the faintest idea how to play the poor lad, and haven’t helped him with the minutes they have given him from time to time. At least we’ll get our money back on him. We spent far too long in the summer chasing Sigurðsson, although he’s obviously a talented player. Sigurðsson completed the ill-conceived spending of the Koeman era. Unlike the poised, thoughtful purchasing of the past, Everton had along the way become a side spending money like a student receiving their first student loan into the bank. Without thought we stocked up on 10’s- Rooney, on a free, added into the mix to join Sigurðsson, Klaassen, and Barkley, the embodiment of a student (flush with their loan money) on a run to Costco, returning with 100 pot noodles and nowhere to store them in their student dorms. Klaassen was the four pack of beef and tomato stuffed above the wardrobe. We had no way to get all of them into our team, and our form suffered so starkly from both our summer spending- and our lack of spending at centre forward, on the wing, full-backs and centre-half, that the malaise was so gripping, the ‘r’ word was being muttered at a possibility, for the first time in over a decade.

It isn’t that Everton have struggled to bridge the gap, it’s that we’re actually worse off for the last couple of years. We’ve had the third best right-back at the club playing left-back, a kid playing right-back, a kid playing centre-half, an out-of-form kid playing centre midfield (who has been getting the crowd on his back, but they’ve had to keep playing him because of the failures of those responsible for recruitment), and a kid leading the line on his own. We were badly unprepared for this season.

The ship called EFC was adrift, rudderless, and Koeman was thrown overboard, sans dignity.

Koeman was supposed to bring a ruthlessness that our underperforming squad needed, and be a ‘name’ in “The Hollywood of football” as Moshiri put it. The ‘ruthlessness’ that Moshiri, that we all eulogised about, that was supposed to be his biggest strength, was in fact a huge weakness.

Now, we’ve a manager without the name Moshiri thought he wanted for us to compete in the “Hollywood of football”- two years on and further contradictions, if not confusion. A steady sort, Allardyce has already righted the ship and done as much as could be reasonably asked of him at this stage. As for Walsh, the mysterious figure who we still don’t know much about or how his role works- he skates upon thin ice. The kids on the wings- with as much promise as we as fans have thought they’ve had, have not been fancied by successive managers. Klaassen isn’t making the bench, and frequently neither is Sandro, either. You get the point- a man whose sole remit has been to buy players… Has, simply put, not bought well.

To be fair, criticising Walsh can be tricky, because we just don’t know the dynamic behind the scenes. He may have presented three or four players in positions of need to Koeman, and you wouldn’t put it past Koeman- not lifting his head from his desk, extending a fist and giving Walsh a thumbs down like an emperor as he half-listened to the list of options. Koeman was stubborn and single minded- it may be that if it wasn’t Giroud he wanted nobody, same with Klaassen, and so on. Walsh doesn’t have that luxury as an excuse now, he was supposed to favour Allardyce, and he’s hitched his cart to him. If Allardyce does well, and they sign well, the pressure will ease, but given many don’t expect Allardyce to be at the club within a year or two, all eyes are on Walsh, now- starting with Cenk Tosun. All that matters to us as fans is that situations like those we’ve had over the past 12 months can’t be allowed to continue into 2018.

The club is in need of a clear out of playing staff, a clear identity, and direction. All the way through. Because until things are sorted in the corridors of L4, the confusion will continue to find its way to the pitch

As always, you can find me here for more nonsense:

Bournemouth v Everton Preview


So that’s a wrap for 2017 – a year that most Evertonians won’t be too hasty in recalling in times to come.

Win this game though and Everton start 2018 in the top half of the table which is incredulous considering how shite we’ve been for near enough the entirety of the current season, with this fixture being competitive game number 33 already.

I think that’s the Allardyce honeymoon over judging by many of the comment I’ve seen in the past week or so. Over here at FC Everton we don’t wait until you suffer a defeat, none of that shit, for as soon as you trigger any particular preconception or anxiety we have about a new Manager then unless they’re winning, they’re dying in our tender eyes. And heaven help you if you wasn’t the man we wanted in the first place – then you’re fucked. Word is that Large Samuel wears an earpiece in one ear to balance out the thousands of knives sharpening he can hear in the other ear, as Pickford launches another long ball to Calvert-Lewin that goes over his head and into touch.

An over dramatization like but it’s a preview and I need some content to lash in there. Or perhaps in this world of ready opinion it’s the most angry and loopy that gets shared around and put on a pedestal as part of a wider problem when it’s just a small percentage of loons that can’t see we’re in much better position that when the gargoyle headed simplifier took over and it’s a means to an end. And seven games unbeaten so it would be fucking mad to harangue him now.

It’s also perfectly normal to recognise the evident improvement but at the same time hope for a more attacking element to our game, to ward off the ghost of Walter Smith that still haunts some dark recesses of our minds.

Let the man spend some money then, and the gum chewing hulking man-toad seems to be wasting no time in that if the reports of Cenk “is it” Tosun are in any way accurate. Like fuck I have the slightest clue about that foreign football muck so one can only wait and see. To further contradict my perennial despising of the transfer rumour system I’m gonna get a bit excited if that tall silky high priest of midfield N’zonzi follows, as he utterly sexed our midfield in a nonchalant manner back in that feisty pre season friendly in August. You know the one, the one where Sandro first gave hints that he’s some alternate Iberian Andy Johnson.

So Bournemouth away. They’re having a shitter of a season which is comforting as opposition but also a bit terrifying in case they beat us despite this. Everybody’s second favourite ewok Eddie Howe is feeling the pinch a little as the BBC casually slip him on their “next for the chop” list. Once you’re on there the slick haired open necked bunch of ex pros conjure up a smattering of “pieces” criticising you from various angles until that chop comes. Allardyce will be on there before too long and your boy McNulty can “lack of confidence behind the scenes” the fuck out of him until yet another Everton manager gets a severance payment that will benefit at least 2 generations beyond them.

Bournemouth being the Tory Blackpool of the south may not generate too much affection amongst us Corben infested northern types but as a whole they’re a generally inoffensive bunch of supporters so I’m gonna zip right past them and into some of their players as I’ve got a train to catch.

King – scored a cracker in the reverse fixture before being out-Oumared.

Wilson – some top class shithousing of West Ham and Moyes with that hand to net thing.

Fraser – one little middle earth Gamgee looking fuck. Volley him out the game Jonjoe lar.

Gosling – a shithouse, but a last minute kopite piss boiling shithouse so I wish the world’s bounty to him.

Ibe – all the kopites laughing at “rinsing” Bournemouth before they multiplied that income by 5 and lashed it at the Cat from Red Dwarf.

Ake – a Lonsdale Ruud Gullit.

Begovic – he’s not Pickford is he?

As for Everton I would anticipate a wee bit of squad rotation due to that heavy load of games, and a couple of games where we’ve had as much attacking threat as a Lib Dem on Question Time.

Take your pick from who starts up front, but it’s probably going to be Niasse. Bolasie looked brighter than I expected on return from a year out, so much so that I conveniently buried the memory of him frustrating the fuck out of me as he repeatedly Beagried full backs with varying results. Lennon is the go to option on the right and I doubt that will change, as neither will Sigurdsson on the left. As Lookman and Vlasic become better with each absence – aka the Lucas Leiva effect.

There’s been a Rooney sized hole of creativity so hoping he’s over his manflu/family Christmas leave blag to take his spot and make some goals happen. If not then some sort of concoction with all the usual midfielders, that probably won’t be too effective.

To four or five at the back? That’s the question. Considering Bournemouth’s three year Plan A has been playing twattish balls into the channels to turn pondering centre halves around then I reckon there’s little need for the extra defender in there. Someone may have to miss out from Holgate, Williams and Keane. Martina is the most right footed left back I’ve ever seen but consistent with the paradox that is Curacao’s captain he plays better there than right back. Yeah we know you think he’s shit but he’s there until someone else can do a better job. Big fan of Kenny’s back poster defensive headers and what a long way he’s come in 2 months in that he’s an easy pick at right back. Pickford – whose face seemingly has a stroke every twelve minutes – is in goal.

I sense this current run and mood is a little precarious in the absence of any real “Sam is here” statement performance. Or maybe these stoic nil nillers are just that? The optimist in me is thinking there’ll be more. Points are what we needed and points are what we’ve got so there’s little complaint but we’ve also – amazingly – had some rub of the green which is startling as good fortune goes into Everton as Tramadol goes into Egypt.

Happy New Year, happy new Everton. Hopefully.

Everton v Chelsea Preview


Heavy going this winning thing.

Some relief then that current champions come to Goodison this Christmas Saturday to relieve us of this burden we have been carrying, all the way to the top half of the table.

Or will they? Read on to not find out.

Of course Chelsea will fucking win because there’s no way Everton are winning 5 out of 6 in the league with this bunch of mismatched chancers, and thus sending you into Christmas Day with positive thoughts about the future. Everton quite simply doesn’t work in this way.

No it’s not the type of damaging mindset which holds this club hostage at all – before all them young Spanish obsessed ultras launch edgy social media abuse – it’s just stating what you know. And if it isn’t then sound, then I’ll start to get a wee bit excited about what is to come. Because there’s a shitter of a month ahead, a double Sam honeymoon graveyard if you will.

Maybe it’s a defence mechanism to spare one from the regular pain Everton inflicts. Fuck knows.

The Swansea game was one I reckon we’d have lost a few weeks earlier. Going a goal behind has been somewhat of an achilles heel for an Everton team devoid of backbone. There’s no doubting the fixture list has been rather kind to large Samuel since his Everton introduction but 5 wins out of 6, and crucially 13 points out of 15 in the league have been most welcome and better than anyone really expected.

There’s shouts to cut some slack to our leader – with his face like an imminent mudslide – and a burgeoning large group of acceptors, even finding joy in Sammy Lee on our touchline and professing how it’s for the better. As often with Everton, division and polarisation are what we do so well. I’m game by game myself but If you can’t enjoy a load of Everton consecutive wins then fuck, Everton really have killed you inside and it’s time to take up bowls.

That goal by Sigurdsson though. That tackle by Kenny.

So what can we expect from Chelsea? An ace team signed at great expense who will provide a stern test of our defence and resolve. You watch them on the telly, you read about them often, they’re a cracking team. I can tell shit about them that you don’t know.

Manager Conte done great in his first season to galvanise the squad together in that 5 at the back system and muller most teams before them, including Everton twice. All sorts of mutterings about starting a dynasty and that but then Guardiola moved through the gears and has put pay to anyone thinking of that shit for a while.

Chelsea fans suffered from a certain stereotype – which is usually celebrated in full in these shite previews – but it’s a disservice to the tonnes of sound working class Chelsea fans out there. Fans who were staunch during Chelsea being abstract shite – barring the Kerry Dixon season – for absolute beards. Then the Abramovich thing happened which is like some mad cheat code on an arl Amiga 500 game, and Chelsea have been a different proposition since that.

There’ll be a lot of envy towards that but it’s delivered sustainable success in a new age of English top flight football. We’d be all over it. Interestingly those most triggered by this period of Chelsea is our nearest and dearest over the park, they have a real distaste for Chelsea and engage them in some tacky banter about plastic flags. I’d have absolutely no qualms over HOWARD KENDALL’S BLUE AND WHITE UNDIES on the finest young Orca or Panda skin if it meant we won a truck load of titles myself like.

Anyway if big red are hating on another club then it means that someone is doing some form of good deed, so it’s on that basis Chelsea get a pass in this preview. Maybe big red are just jealous Chelsea are winning leagues and they’re not, who really knows?

There’s of course the plethora of hang ons that Chelsea attract as fans who overcompensate to show they “get it” so they can fuck off, as can the racist ones too. Blerts.

Some of the Chelsea players that may or may not play against Everton this weekend:

Morata – doesn’t play as the ref shithoused him for celebrating a 92nd min winner. Pure Everton that.

Hazard – fucking ace. Twat him and take the early yellow, and hope.

You know what? It’s a bit futile going through them one by one as they’re all dead well known and have been done to death so we’ll skip this bit and go straight to St Domingo’s Young Pissboilers, and friends.

Don’t think too many people would be surprised to see the same team starting again. It’s been working against lesser lights with the only real scruple being that deep midfield combination of Schneiderlin and Gueye, but they seem more suited to this type of game where Everton will be sitting deep. If not then West Derby’s Thomas Davies will be on the scuttle between the lines and looking for them forward balls.

So that means more of DCL up front, and it’s dead pleasing to see his development and some well deserved acknowledgement coming with it. Evertonians are always going to have time for players that work themselves to the bone for the cause, which he does, but it’s all the other wee things he brings in the final third that become more pronounced the more he plays in a winning team. Easy for us to lavish compliments to anyone in that circumstance I suppose. We will need a good quality forward brought in as early as possible in January to share that load and take the lead, but at very worst we’ve a good quality squad player for £1.5m here, and at best who knows?

It’s also working well having eager legs in front of Rooney who himself is another example of that polarising quality of Everton I spoke of earlier. The last 4 weeks of Rooney have been very good indeed, on the back of him moving deeper and taking over the captaincy. The impact on the play, the goals and assists have been plentiful. Up to you if you cheer him in a royal blue shirt or not. I’m increasingly pleased he’s there though.

Sigurdsson is another to exert influence in the team with another scorcher of a goal and a similar heavy workload as admired in DCL. This type of impact on games is what we all expected when we signed him, the match winning impact. Thing is that he’s playing over on the left so not in his preferred position and I’m told by level headed Swansea fans that there’s levels still to come when he does end up there. We will see, but considering he was Emperors Clothes numero uno for me a month ago it’s pleasant to be proven a tit. Might as well continue the easy plaudits for wins against shit teams with Lennon and his various roles in the team. With Bolasie and January’s transfer window looming who knows for how long? But he’s come into a struggling team and delivered just what we needed, and given the young Kirkdale full back with sensational teeth behind him some space to make a foothold in the first team.

Defence may seem an uneasy alliance but it’s been working, although this game will provide a stern test of their competence. They passed it at Anfield so maybe I shouldn’t be too defeatist. Like fuck I’m moving on from the defence without lavishing praise on the young right back feeling his way into the team. If not anything else he’s illustrated perfectly the old Jack Rodwell adage about the differences between Birkdale and Kirkdale, with his most excellent shithousing. The latest of which was a completely needless, beautiful, tackle on that poor Swansea player. A tackle of such handsomeness that it started a melee in which all Jonjoe’s hopper mates bounced in like a snarl in the Paradox. Well in lad you’ll do for us.

Pickford in goal, he may be tested somewhat more than of late in this.

So I started with expecting a twatting, and the more I’ve gone on writing this I’ve been seduced by that hope thing that maybe glues many of us to this preferred weekend pastime of ours. Everton have got a wee bit of momentum and it’s at a more assured Goodison who know the importance of signing off for Christmas with a performance.

Allardyce has beaten Chelsea in his last two games with Sunderland and Crystal Palace respectively, with his sitting-deeper-than-a-spliff-on-an-old-sofa approach suiting this type of game, maybe, right at this moment.

Predictions and previews make awkward bedfellows so I’ll just leave that shit there.

It’s the season of goodwill and with this being the final game before Christmas I’d like to wish all the best to you and yours, and a heartfelt ‘nice one’ for all anyone clicking on any of this shite I type throughout the year. Goodwill to all. Except Chelsea, they can get to fuck. Right into them Everton.

Swansea (h) 18.12.17


“There goes my hero, watch him as he goes. There goes my hero, he’s ordinary”

The roast dinner revolution rumbled on apace. Five games unbeaten now for Partizan Walton and it’s become apparent that a bit of defensive organisation goes a long way in the modern game, although it may upset a few who believe that every game should be a 5-3 feast of flowing football. Not that this one was short of goals mind.

Large Samuel kept faith in the XI that shithoused a point in midweek at Newcastle, with the only change being Sandro for Niasse on the bench. The latter apparently flounced off after being told his services were not required for the evening but that’s unconfirmed. One who did sit in the stands was Yannick Bolasie, back in contention for the first time in over a year.

I can probably gloss over the first half hour because absolutely fuck all happened. Nothing of note anywhere, bar a ludicrous decision from the portly Jon Moss to book Mason Holgate for a sliding challenge that Maldini or Beckenbauer would have been proud of. The fat fucking tit. Not long after, that organisation I mentioned earlier took a brief moment off to go for an early half time pie or whatever and the visitors struck first blood. A corner whipped in and messrs Williams, Holgate et al decided not to bother clearing it and the ball fell to Leroy Fer, him of the balsa wood knee, to slide home from a yard.

This spurred the lethargic blues and the home crowd into action and on the stroke of half time, Everton drew level. Lennon “drew” the foul from the doppelgänger of Gomez Addams and Moss pointed to the spot. Rooney’s initial kick was excellently turned into the post by Fabianski but the rebound fell kindly to the feet of Calvert-Lewin who turned home and Goodison breathed a sigh of relief. Half time.

No changes at half time, despite the malaise that seemed to be omnipresent in the first 45 minutes, and it seemed that the frustration would continue as the hosts seemed unable to make things happen going forward. It took the introduction of Tom Davies on the hour to provide the necessary spark. Within minutes of coming on, the youngster strode forward and fed the ball wide to Sigurdsson. The Icelandic forward cut in from the wing, steadied himself and unleashed a swerving, powerful thunderbastard into the far post that was an absolutely filthy way to sink the hopes of his former side.

Suddenly there was much more pace about Everton, the ball was zipped about with pace and precision and some wonderful build up play led to the decisive third. A series of 20 odd passes from side to side eventually found the excellent Kenny whose neat one two and run into the box led to the despairing lunge of Olsson clipping his heels, although the initial foul was outside the box. Chalk up another clusterfuck from Moss. Rooney stepped up and made amends for his earlier miss by burying his spot kick beyond Fabianski.

The final 10 minutes were played out at a more sedate pace although there was still time for Jonjoe Kenny to test out Fer’s notorious knees with a lunging sliding challenge that got nowhere near the ball and kicked off a 20 man melee which resulted in a couple of bookings and a few ruffled feathers. That was that and those that braved the December chills were sent home with smiles upon faces. A stiffer test to come though with the reigning champions next to visit L4 and a much stiffer test to face than was posed by South Wales’s finest.

Viva la revolucion

Everton v Swansea Preview


Weird week, weird season.

The backdrop of this week has been kopite and geordie heads blowing clean off and orbiting this blue planet like smited satellites, filling our airwaves with some tremendous one eyed cry arsing.

If that’s not the sign of a productive week’s work then I don’t know what it is.

It was two consecutive away games in the space of 3 days which maybe we would have expected to sink us further into the mire. Instead 4 points were gained, heads orbited and those delightful young pups of ours displayed some excellent shithousing in closing out the game at St James’ Park.

That Kenny 360 looking for the ball was pure pantomime, as was his appeals to the ref that their pissboiled player lashed the ball at his legs out of frustration. Evertonians have always had a keen eye for snide and the dark arts of winning, and it’s mighty heartening that the young lads coming through seem to share that keen interest. Lesser noted but similarly appreciated is Pickford bouncing the ball like Michael Jordan at every opportunity to waste time. Much more of all of this please.

So a week that started at Anfield with Cally Lewin & The Blues with The Power Of Shove will end eight days later against bottom club Swansea. It’s the exact type of tempting fixture we are prone to shitting. Allardyce has talked up not letting complacency set in all week which suggests he’s learning Everton fast.

Swansea are having a shitter of a season and are caught in that boom bust cycle prevalent in teams before ultimate relegation. Firing managers and benefitting from short term boost may work once or twice, maybe three times if you’re lucky, but then ultimately your failure to build any sort of sustainable strategy or squad means the unforgiving Premier League is going to swallow you whole and leave you feeling all dirty and used with parachute payments to stop you going to the magazines.

I’m not sure if Swansea fans tried to look down their nose at us when they managed a league placing above us or a single victory at Goodison Park in their entire history but I’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. You see, there’s much to like about Swansea and it’s peculiar folk.

It opens up the Welsh North, South, West debate. As we know the North Welsh switch language as soon as you walk into a pub, resent scousers on their soil, peroxide their hair as grown males, are fond of a brash male earring and generally give off an air of “not to be left around your kids in a supermarket”. The West Welsh are insular farmhand druids and cleaners at Butlins.

The South Welsh are the preferred of them all with an easy working class vibe about them and simple, uncomplicated ways that produce some peculiar but enjoyable behaviour to watch. Every single one of them is deeply flawed and never more so than when you put some alcohol inside them but they’re far less likely to snake you on a holiday home sale, get too close to your kids, play Super Furry’s songs in Welsh, wear stonewashed jeans to a wedding or sympathise with the tories than the rest of Wales.

Its for these reasons and more that we should celebrate South Wales and for it’s incessant rain, beautiful coastlines and excellent choices of daytime drinking. Every weekend in South Wales is a drama. There’s binge drinking, parochial feuds lasting hundreds of years, a high concentration of easy shagging and so many drunken rucks on cold concretes that with the advent of CCTV you could put forward a case of South Wales being the world’s longest running drama series. Fuck your Coronation Street or Dallas, go and sit off on any of the slowly decaying high streets and watch the plot unfold. If you have any South Welsh for friends I reckon you’ll resonate with this. They’re fantastically loyal friends to have with the added bonus that they leave you feeling less hung up about all the little weird things you hate about yourself.

All this and more from Swansea. I can’t see there being too many of their fans with it being a Monday night a week before Christmas and, you know, that’s OK. They’ll mingle well before and after the game and be a little too fond of fattening male wearing replica tops but when you put them in comparison against others in this twat jamboree of Premier League they are much more tolerable. I hope they do find a way to stay up just as I hope Paul Clement manages to shave all that hair off real soon lest he continue to look like a bit part police officer on The Bill.

Non tactical assessment of their players:

Bony – keep looking around expecting to see Snoop supporting him in attack. Get them boarded houses checked too.

Fer – anyone else long for the days of Moyes missing out on transfers? Me neither.

Mesa – one glance tells you he’s heavily, heavily involved in 1950s Sicilian Brooklyn rackets.

Mawson – “how does down south look like Dad” “Alfie Mawson celebrating a goal”.

Van der Hoorn – one glance tells you he can’t be anything other than Dutch.

Naughton – hope Tom Davies shithouses him for fucking Everton off a decade ago.

Fabianski – pepper this cube headed fuck.

Allardyce doesn’t look one to change a winning team so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the same team start this game as last. Which means more of an increasingly confident DCL running about eagerly in attack, Sigurdsson putting kilometres in on the left and Lennon scampering down the right wing.

It also means more of Rooney pulling the strings there in the middle. What an influence he’s been during the fast few weeks, will be interesting to see if he can sustain this influence or if it’s the dying embers of a successful career. Perturbs me a bit that he’s morphing into one of them trolls that teenagers used to keep on keyrings with each passing photo.

Schneiderlin and Gueye resembled something like last season but one swallow doesn’t make a summer. There’s question marks over them having enough about them to dominate games like this where they will be expected to have superior territorial possession. We will see.

Really pleasing thing of late is the defence returning to function. It’s a bit of a raggedy back four that somehow has been working. Williams and Holgate forging a good partnership, the former’s mentoring of the latter seems to be reaping dividends as suddenly Mason looks like a good aggressive centre half with plenty about him. Our boy from Curacao on the left is no long term answer but at least not shitting it. Jonjoe Kenny on the right is really coming on and great justification for Unsworth’s faith in pushing him into the team and sticking with him. We’re a long way of urging Cafu to visit Goodison but the lad looks a good un’ and is as staunch blue as it comes. Magnificent set of teeth too. Pickford in goal.

This wee run is a welcome distraction from what’s gone before this season. We’ve tightened up but we’re not exactly playing too well. That and January’s set of fixtures makes me guarded in getting too excited about any supposed Everton renaissance.

This fixture will be the first of 7 games in 22 days. Season’s are made and broke in such runs. Three weeks ago we got a horrible twatting at a shit Southampton. Putting Swansea to bed would mean we’ve taken more points in those subsequent 3 weeks than the 3 before that. Which is sound really. So why sweat what may be when you can get by on a game by game basis?

So as we open another door on a particularly enjoyable Everton advent calendar I hope there’s three points and some utterly horrible piss boiling designated for a cold Goodison night. Into these blues, they’re fucking shite.

Jonjoe Kenny


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.

This is not a Mea Culpa


This is not what I expected to feel like a few weeks ago.

The Brothers Vera depart for England fourteen days from the time of this writing and amidst the usual pre-international travel anxiety, I’ve had a couple of zany bad dreams in which I find myself at long last on Merseyside and just as I’m about to enter Goodison for the very first time, an attendant points to a photo of me (at least it’s a flattering photo) hanging somewhere near the entrance under a sign that says DO NOT ADMIT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. Absolutely flabbergasted by this turn of events, I beg to know why and the attendant references a nasty, venomous piece I wrote about the Everton manager about a month back on some site called Everton Aren’t We. Me being me, of course, I take the logical route and play the ignorant American card that I look forward to playing as often as possible while in England.

“You keep saying ‘Everton, aren’t we?’ Is that a question? Apologies, I don’t really speak ‘the language’.”

This “who, me?” strategy goes on for a while before I finally wake up in a cold sweat wondering if I’d gone too far with all my mean words on the internet about the current Everton manager. And like a warm rush of water over my feet on some tropical beach in the Caribbean, I realize a few things:

  1. I’m a complete nobody. Amen.
  2. My country’s current government is just one bit of proof that you can NEVER be too mean on the internet.
  3. If Everton were going to start banning supporters from the ground for talking shit on Sam Allardyce at some point, the place would be as empty as the souls of the average Chelsea supporter.

So this is where my mind has been at as we’ve seen our increasingly shithouse Everton right the ship under Big Sam of late. What am I to make of an outfit who only a few weeks ago had me genuinely fearing my trip to Merseyside would be to bid adieu to my beloved obsession’s eon’s-long Premier League status and who now find themselves increasingly safe in the middle of the table? And does this fundamentally change my feelings about the appointment of Allardyce? In a word, “Ummm…”

This is not what it felt like only a couple weeks ago.

Clearly. It’s nice to at least feel safe again. We all like feeling safe. Not saying we’re out of the woods completely, but it’s hanging less heavily over your head lately. Admit it. Your stomach is churning less. You may be sleeping better. You may be resenting your significant other a bit less lately for “not getting” your existential English football crisis that you never talk too much about with her/him for fear of them realizing the true extent to which you are a miserable, obsessive troll of a human being about SPORTS of all things. Good lord man, why would anyone ever love you? Well if they knew the extent to which you were actually pained over the uncertain futures of Sandro and Michael Keane, the answer is that they wouldn’t love you and they’d be right to get out as fast as humanly possible. But anyway…

This is not the long term path forward.

Yes, I love clean sheets. I love taking points we may not “deserve”—especially from a club who don’t deserve the entitlement lodged frighteningly far up their ass who devolve so easily into a spoiled-American-millennial-child-named-“Braylon” hissy fit because my prick father spilled beard oil on my responsibly sourced and boring kale lunch salad when things don’t magically go their way. Yes, I love our once unforgivably soft bunch of players suddenly playing for one another, putting in shifts, being kick the ball away before a free kick/fake an injury while coming off the pitch petty, etc. Yes, I love the version of Everton willing to be diabolical for both points and for the cause in general. And while all of these things collectively have—if by VERY fine margins—turned around our fortunes in the table, we ought not to mistake this for anything more than a short term remedy to a sickness—albeit a significant one. Because if you’ll remember, the long term goal isn’t just to get healthy. The long term goal is to get GREAT. This style of football has its virtues, but we’ve got plenty of evidence in the modern game that this style of football has a pretty defined ceiling to it.

And it’s also important to realize that by all accounts, the major shareholder understands this. If this style of football was the chosen path forward, we’d have probably pulled the trigger on Sean Dyche. Credit to him and a Burnley side that are knocking at the Champions League door in December, but whom I suspect will eventually settle into somewhere between 6th and 9th in the table by end of the season. So while this style of football is stabilizing and fits the national media talking points of those who like to pat us on the head as a club that value “hard work and putting in a shift” over anything else—as if these fundamental competitive characteristics are the same as true ambition—this style is ultimately a short term fix to avoid a long term calamity.

It is in this context that I still view Allardyce as a stopgap. Don’t get me wrong, stopgaps have their time and place and the time appears to have been this season with the place being this club. He’s transformed some soft and uninspired zombies into some real fookin’ war boys lately and it’s been a refreshing change given what we all endured not so long ago. This has been tough, dogged, intelligent, all-hands on deck, avert crisis football from our Everton. But it’s a style with mid table ambition that might get us as high as 7th this season (If we’re lucky. Which would be SO fine by me).

This is not sex.

This is some heavy petting. A bit of the dry hump, but the underwear and the action is all still very PG-13. But it’s better than before. The spark is coming back a bit. And that works for now.

This is not, in fact, the worst Everton team of the last couple decades.

Not even close. But they sure played like it. This shows the extent to which a losing mentality had gotten into their heads under Koeman for reasons that still feel like they aren’t completely understood. No, not even Wayne Rooney’s patented “winning mentality” seemed able to stem the dark tide of the start of this season. But alas, his goals—even and maybe especially when he plays poorly—have started to make a difference instead of being mere window dressing on previously horrific team performances. Also, a touch more positional discipline and what appears a concerted effort to build a rapport with Gylfi Sigurdsson have made a huge difference.

The following statements are not mutually exclusive.

  • Wayne Rooney has been better than the majority of us (including me) thought he would be.
  • Wayne Rooney was part of the problem under Koeman.

Good for Rooney scoring when it seemed no one else could early on in the season. But you can’t convince me his play was doing anything to make those around him better. Now, it feels different. Rooney’s uptick in form after a few games on the bench seems to be coinciding with the elevated form of those around him. Some of that credit has to go to Allardyce for at least instilling some previously absent certainty, some lineup stability (which really got going under Unsworth), and a general philosophy that fits the context of this roster’s current state ahead of a critical January window. But credit to Rooney for finding a way to score AND lead at the same time.

This is not my attempt to cause trouble, but what do we do when Seamus Coleman is fit? How does Jonjoe Kenny lose his place this season? For all the calls to make Seamus the next captain, I wonder what his actual playing future is at the club given all the current factors at play.

This is not a repeat.

I can’t honestly remember the last game (if ever) where Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye were paired together and played as well as they just did at Newcastle—especially defensively. The more I watched Schneiderlin on Wednesday, the more I started to see something click for him. He wasn’t at his best—not nearly like what we saw this past spring (which somehow feels years ago), but he was engaged, covered ground, made smart (if not exciting) passes, and made some key tackles/interceptions—which was especially key in a game which saw Rooney early on giving the ball away like the mafia had incriminating photos of him. Now to see him do it again. And again. And again. And again. Our disgraced Le Hunk is a long way from being back in the black. A LONG way. Gueye can’t hit an elephant ten yards away with his shot and it’s painful, but he did so many great things in this game. I can’t remember the last time Gueye generated what could be termed as “productive havoc” at quite this level. He hasn’t been awful this season, but the attention that has rightly been on Schneiderlin’s poor play has probably served to provide some cover from harsh criticism of his very average play. If either or even both of Schneiderlin and Gueye can consistently find last season’s form, the back line suddenly becomes less of the shambles that it’s been up to this point.

This current run is not without its fair share of luck.

Two fantastic Newcastle chances hit the woodwork. They had that snake bit look on their faces we had not too long ago. We were a bit fortunate. If we’re honest, we’ve seen some strokes of luck/fortune start to go our way of late. From all the way back to Cleverley’s missed penalty before the last break to Pickford’s slightly (ahem) off the line penalty save against West Ham to a few incidents against the sad sack reds, we’ve definitely benefitted from moments that could’ve gone the other way. But if luck is merely preparation meeting opportunity (which is at least somewhat true), we’ve begun to earn it.

This offensive attack will only get us so far.

From the setup to the personnel, more is obviously needed to be competitive against better teams than we’ve played recently. Dominic Calvert-Lewin runs his socks off and he’s growing despite being in an outsized role at this stage of his development, but a true finisher is ultimately required. Here’s hoping his headers improve. Martina and Sigurdsson couldn’t have handed him the ball in better spots in the box than they did a couple times on Wednesday. You can see the improved chance creation in particular of Sigurdsson and begin to imagine what an average to above average target-man could mean for this thing. But DCL has been wonderful to watch. His ability to hold up the ball, his willingness to continually chase the ball into areas that give pause to the opposition back line, and his underrated and still developing ability as a passer provide a ton of hope for the future. And he will begin to finish more of the chances that guys like Sigurdsson create for him, but in the short and medium term, Everton will simply need more production.

This is not a coincidence.

As Sigurdsson’s influence in the team has grown, the results have improved. Despite not getting on the scoresheet, the Icelandic Prince of Princes put together yet another in a string of really good performances. He’s still not in his highest gear quite yet, but with more time and another goal-scorer, it feels that the effort he’s putting in combined with his ability will most certainly pay off.

This is no mirage.

Mason Holgate and Ashley Williams have been dynamite lately. If there’s anything that Allardyce can be given unqualified credit for, it’s the personality transplant he’s done on Ashley Williams in particular, who only weeks ago cut a figure of a man who was riding shotgun with calamity without the ability to open the car door from the inside. But suddenly, Williams is playing no-nonsense, largely error-free football. There’s nothing in his footballing skillset that will remind you of the previously anointed “Cadillacs” we all tend to fawn over, but in this Big Sam brand of football, he’s fitting in nicely. There’s still a long term place for Michael Keane in my estimation, but Williams has earned his place in the XI for now. And confidence appears to be absolutely oozing from Holgate in particular. You wouldn’t have been wrong to have doubts about his ability to be a central defender. He was average to poor of earlier this season when given his limited chances in the middle and only a bit better on the right. But he’s looked reborn under Allardyce for reasons that evade me at the moment, and the difference is night and day. Hell, even Cuco Martina playing out of position looks suddenly serviceable (ONLY serviceable). Without slighting a club legend like Leighton Baines, the fact that an out of position Cuco Martina has been as good or slightly better than what Baines was able to provide this season is a damning indictment of his current level, but an even more damning indictment of the club’s shocking decision/inability to sign a left back over the summer. Baines seems to be more suited for a reduced role and he’s earned the benefit of having his last couple seasons handled with more professionalism and care than has been afforded to him up to this point by those in charge.

This is not a mea culpa.

The bad decisions and performances of the management and players up until Allardyce came aboard would’ve been almost comical if it wasn’t so excessively sad. There’s a lot of making up to do across the board and they have a long road ahead to pay off that ugly debt. But while I’m no more convinced that Allardyce is a long term solution, I’m at least more convinced that he was the right solution for now. For a club so terminally beset by the weight of yesterday’s glory and tomorrow’s unfulfilled promise, maybe just embracing the challenges of today is enough. For now.

Newcastle (a) 13.12.17


“Please don’t dwell upon your wooden leg, your limp is boring me”

I’ve never been this confused. We were meant to hate him. And yet when I look at that big, ruddy cheeked face, jaw furiousing clamping down on a stick of Hubba Bubba, that oversized 2003 Bluetooth headset, the sweating, hulking figure clad in a TK Maxx overcoat, my mind is in knots. Do…. do I like Sam Allardyce?

A midweek trip to one of the least salubrious suburbs of Sunderland for St Domingos and Big Sam kept faith in the XI that started the second half at the giant four hole punch monument at the weekend, with the in form Rooney keeping the captain’s armband in the continuing absence of Leighton Baines. The target was a first away win in the league since January when the manager was in the opposing dugout.

Newcastle started brightly with a lot possession, the Everton back four looking relatively solid bar a rasping effort from Ritchie that shook Pickford’s goal frame. Yet barely a minute later, the blues were in front. Slick one touch passing from Rooney, Sigurdsson and Calvert-Lewin, the latter with a beautiful clipped cross that Aaron Lennon headed goalwards. What should have been a routine save for Darlow was inexplicably spilled and Wayne Rooney was on hand to slide home his 9th league goal of the season.

Within 5 minutes, the home side fired another warning shot across the boughs with a thunderous effort from 30 yards rattling off the inside of Pickford’s other post and rolling perilously close to goal line before trickling wide. In truth though, it was the last time they looked remotely like scoring, with Big SAM’s Beef Blockade (© @gwladysoptimist) willing to sit deep and soak up everything that was thrown forward.

I’m going to break slightly from the norm and highlight something tactical here. If you’re only here for horrible insults and cheap throwaway lines, feel free to skip to the last couple of paragraphs. One thing I noticed was that although the back line was happy to drop deep and invite the hosts forward, any time the ball came within 30 yards, there was two or three blue shirts immediately pressing, sniping away and forcing mistakes. The difference under Allardyce in Williams and Martina is startling, transformed from bumbling oafs to rock solid stalwarts. High praise also to Jonjoe Kenny and Mason Holgate, the latter keeping the club captain and the new £25m signing out of the team. His reading of play and positioning is as good as I’ve ever seen in a young centre half at the club.

Right, that nonsense out of the way, the only stand out moment of the closing stages was a second booking and slightly early bath in injury time for Newcastle’s resident Gail Porter impersonator and all round Shelvey. A quick mention to Rafa, whose post match interview was littered with whinges about time wasting and gamesmanship. Wouldn’t it be delicious if he relegated them biffs twice in two calendar years?

The Gravy Express rumbles onwards, slowly yet unrelentingly towards who knows what sort of meaty destination. I hope you’re all hungry for the feast at the end.

Forza Evertonia

Plannoyed: The Merseyside Derby Dilemma


Can I write about the Merseyside derby yet? Has the dust settled enough? Have the Anfield Wrap lot put their crayons away yet? While Jürgen Klopp continues to erupt like an Icelandic volcano, Sam Allardyce has come away from the den of horrors as pleased as the cat that got the Bisto. We’re all a little bit pleased too, but also annoyed. It’s alright to be both. In fact, it’d be weird if you weren’t.

What is most encouraging about what is on paper a very nondescript 1-1 draw is the fact it was nondescript. Three clean sheets in a row, followed by a game in which a side that had scored 15 goals in their last three outings could only muster three shots on target. Mo Salah’s goal was a beauty, and the other two efforts on Pickford’s goal are extremely difficult to even recall. What that means is that Everton’s defence was organised, resolute and stuck to the plan.

That also means there was a plan, which is an absolute delight when compared to recent Anfield tragedies. Sam Allardyce must have looked closely at the other sides to come away from Shelbyville leaving a bitter taste in Kopite mouths. Burnley, 28% possession, five shots, 37 clearances. Manchester United, 37.8% possession, six shots (one on target), 21 tackles. Chelsea, 46% possession, three shots on target, 23 tackles. Sevilla, a whopping 50% possession, two shots on target, six blocks. Allardyce knew Everton would not win the battle for possession, and so set the side up to frustrate, throw their bodies on the line and wait for the right moment to strike. And, with Dejan Lovren’s help, it worked. It’s worth remembering that the penalty doesn’t happen without Wayne Rooney carrying the ball into the Liverpool half and flighting an exceptional ball into the path of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Everton’s forward rarely got involved, but his contributions were positive when he did, competing impressively in the air. Gylfi Sigurdsson performed valiantly in his defensive duties and provided Everton’s other shot on target, while Idrissa Gueye constantly put himself in the firing line – even if he should have done more to prevent Salah scoring. The star of Everton’s limited show was Jonjoe Kenny, whose tenacity and sound decision-making was exactly what was needed.

All of that is the side dish, though. Let us give thanks to the footballing gods and dine out on a seemingly endless supply of the Reds fuming. The irascible Klopp, he who fell apart as the cameras he loves so much seemed to turn against him, provided most of the fun. The howls of derision that Everton would dare take a point away after an assault on sport, and indeed life itself, weren’t at all overdramatic and pathetic. And I can’t go on without saying that Liverpool fans moaning about soft penalty decisions is like Piers Morgan bemoaning a lack of privacy. In fact, it’s like those ‘white genocide’ morons. After having it all their way for time immemorial, one tiny blow has sent them cartwheeling. And if that doesn’t bring you immense pleasure, you’re just not a Blue.


Yet let’s not pretend we’re treating it like a win, though that’s what our loveable neighbours have told us we’re doing. The game was, frankly, garbage. Everton were terrible. During the first half, we were so impotent that Pelé was appointed club mascot. It isn’t fun to see Everton create such a tiny amount, nor is it enjoyable to watch possession given away like a hastily-purchased Christmas present. Tom Davies looked particularly terrified of having the ball, while Oumar Niasse was so poor that I’ve taken his locker away again. We have to talk about Cuco Martina too. At first, I thought he was purely awful. In fact, he was…less awful. Martina completed plenty of tackles and clearances, with a decent success rate in the former. But Salah was always going to be too much for him, and so it proved with the goal. Martina was the sacrificial lamb, played out of position against a player in red-hot form. It could have been fatal.

The main source of annoyance is also the main source of pleasure. The plan made sense. It was practical. But it was a damning indictment of the lack of quality in the squad right now. It would have been great to go to Anfield and take the game to Liverpool, but it wasn’t possible. Allardyce put out an Everton side that was well-organised, but also lacked ambition. It is the sort of performance that no Everton manager can dare to repeat though, in this case, stealing a point provided the justification. Without the penalty, we would be asking serious questions of the performance – even with the point secured, it has to be ensured that there is some bite in the side in every single match.

Everton were accused of “anti-football” by some seething Kopites. What a nonsense phrase. Everything is football. Some styles are more attractive and desirable, but the objective – winning points – is the same. Allardyce played the percentages at Anfield, and was rewarded. But Liverpool can never tone their critiques down, so it was THE WORST PERFORMANCE IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL.

90% of why we are pleased with the Merseyside derby is the fact that Kopite heads have fallen off left, right and centre. The other 10% comes from satisfaction with the game plan working at Anfield for once. Now, it’s time for Allardyce to show his versatility. At Newcastle, the game plan needs to involve a lot more attacking intent. Ditto against Swansea, West Brom and Bournemouth. Chelsea and Manchester United will need a system reliant on the tough-tackling game that gets Goodison rocking. We showed at Anfield that we can adapt to what is needed at the time. Hopefully, such a style of play won’t be needed when we return there, either in the FA Cup or next season.

It’s alright to be both pleased and annoyed. Now, hands up if you think it was a penalty…

Newcastle United V Everton Preview


It was one of the founding fathers of America, Mr Benjamin Franklin, who wrote “a quarrelsome man has no good neighbours” and that got me thinking a little on Sunday night.

Admittedly Everton didn’t quite deserve 3 points from a challenging Merseyside Derby but the reaction and fallout from the game itself was absolutely *** mental. Disproportionate even.

Would Benny Franks think Liverpool was the quarrelsome man and that’s why everyone around them tends to dislike them? Or is it Everton the quarrelsome neighbour and therefore attracting the no good of Liverpool in our midst on that law of attraction thing?

It was just a point taken. They’re still fuming though.

But almost beyond fuming where Manager, fans and media mouthpieces are on the attack against Everton as though the denial of 3 points on Sunday was a most heinous crime. It’s not as if they got beat, or that they hadn’t pummelled us enough in recent times and had their share of dead easy points from this fixture. So why is Klopp attacking the media and presenters? Why is the salt content of big red’s fan base enough to restock the ocean?

The penalty could easily be argued either way therefore there’s sufficient doubt against it to merit the reward of their player clumsily pushing ours over in the box. Three Liverpool shots on goal to Everton’s two shots hints at profligacy. A well contested game of differing strategies without red cards is a fair environment for teams to compete.

Is this the entitlement and absence of sportsmanship that pretty much everyone else’s fans berate Liverpoolfubbelklub for? If so then we should do it all again in a couple of weeks in the cup. Suppose it’s dead easy to be all gracious lashing platitudes about when you’re snotting teams for fun.

The kopites taunt us that we will never be them and know how it feels, and it turns out they’re entirely accurate about it. Nor would we want to be. Can’t wait to do it all over again in a few weeks and compare any differing outcomes and reactions to it, lest all the above rings true.

So from one set of fans with seeming overinflated sense of worth, acute collective size anxieties and cringey fanbase behaviour to, well, is it really possible to level up on this ***?

Newcastle United have so many parallels with Liverpool that Evertonians are naturally going to have a propensity for mocking them. At least in the kopites cause they did actually use to win a shed load of stuff so you can understand a little bit the mindset of the older ones alive that witnessed those days.

Newcastle can’t boast such a claim. The UK has entered and is soon to exit the European Union without Newcastle ever needing any sort of justified open top bus to grace it’s streets from its “hallowed” football club. The internet that allows me to post these words was not even an idea in one human being’s head the last time Newcastle won a meaningful trophy. Nor had human footprints troubled that big while disc that sits in our night time sky.

Sure you’ll get numerous justification shouts on how BIG a club they are based on attendance figures for a one club city. And how consistent those attendance figures are, showing WOR MASSIVE support. Whatever makes them sleep better at night and let’s not mention that during the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 1990s not once did Newcastle ever manage an average attendance that was superior to Everton’s average attendance last season. A few 16,000 averages in there too. Maybe I shouldn’t let facts get in the way of a good myth and not begrudge them finding some way of justifying not winning trophies for nearly half a century yet maintaining that beloved MASSIVE status of theirs.

I mean who wants to be champions of their country? You seen all the *** they try to project onto Sunderland? Sunderland 6 titles and 4 times runners up. Newcastle 4 titles and 2 times runners up. And *** me them two occasions as runners up got dined upon as though football itself was reinvented, while they deep throated the media’s cock every day, desperate for the mantle of “everyone’s favourite second team” to appease their fragile self confidence. Then promptly disappeared again into a yo yo existence. But not before they chased out the second greatest manager ever to come from the North East** in Bobby Robson because their tastes are so specific and their entitlement so high. They did however chase out Sam Allardyce so pioneered something over Everton at least.

** the greatest manager from the north east came from Ryton, but you knew that.

The half Scottish *** are nothing but an annoyance. There’s a plethora of needy attention seeking behaviour that’s perfectly aligned with Lad Bible, YNFA, Soccer AM and every other bellend you go out of your way to avoid for celebrating the game too over enthusiastically. The set of fans that have a tradition of going to their last away game in fancy dress without knowing why. The type you can hear before you see, with an accent that sounds like a cage full of guinea pigs smacked off their tits on cane sugar. Hair produce all over the shop. Ripped jeans and blazers on a night out. Enforced charisma so shallow that a manta ray wouldn’t get its eyes wet in it.

Their womenfolk are fantastic however and this is why we go easy on them. In fact continuing the plaudits they’re usually alright if you keep them away from other geordies and the conversation steered away from football, or any sort of complicated debate. Not forgetting quick to wit and a fellow appreciator of unfair insults. I genuinely hope a massive supervolcano opens unexpectedly underneath the city and lavas the *** out of them all. Then as the crust is forming the Scots reclaim their land and settle it to vote Jeremy Corbyn, with any remaining geordies systematically brainwashed and herded as lesser creatures until one day an intuitive distant offspring breaks down on a beach to his knees crying “DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL” at a rusty green piece of bridge protruding from the sand. Or flickering neon Sports Direct sign.

That fat Spanish biff is their manager and for this reason they simply must be beat. Send that buffet endangering *** back to the Wirral and blow the *** tunnels with dynamite lest he try and creep back over our side to lash cheap platitudes at the pocket *** for cardinal fancy dress homage, the weird, weird ***. You can see why he was a natural fit for Newcastle though. Same anus, different turd.

Can’t be *** previewing their players but their squad contains that little *** Power Ranger Christian Atsu and also that compete Shelvey.

Genuinely no idea how Allardyce will line up Everton for this as there’s some sort of variables. There are a few after the derby performance who will likely sit this one out, like Niasse, Davies etc. Will there be an opportunity for some fresh legs and formation just 3 days after a punishing 90 minute focus at Anfield? The answers to which will be revealed about an hour before kick off and the merits of it pondered by tactical minds amongst many of you much more astute than I.

All that matters is that this delicate renaissance of sorts isn’t torpedoed too soon. We’re in dire need to keep picking up points under the radar for the sake of our season and sanity of fans.

Newcastle are itching for the points as they’re on a *** run themselves and in a vulnerable position with it being their return to the Premier League. Benitez can’t afford to leave this game without at least a point so it could turn into one almighty cat fight. Or a *** nil nil. Who’s to know? Everton certainly don’t have an entitlement for anything out of this.

And we’re back almost to where we started. Benjamin Franklin also said “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing”. Point taken.

Here’s to more point taking.

Liverpool (a) 10.12.17


“Back once again for the renegade master, D4 damager, power to the people….”

If there’s one fixture I fucking despise, it’s the annual trip to Shelbyville. You know exactly what you’re in for. Half and half scarves, that dirge from Carousel, some overly elaborate rendition of their latest banter filled ditty, a resolute defensive performance inevitably undone after 15 minutes by some piss poor mistake and/or a wonder goal from their latest flavour of the month and the associated collapse that follows, sure as a phone call from chez Allardyce to Dyno-Rod follows a lamb Madras and Bombay potatoes.

I’m thirty two now, and I think I’ve seen us win twice there. I’m well versed now in the pointlessness of expecting anything from a trip to the Tin Mine. It’s a chore to be gotten over with and forgotten as soon as possible afterwards. Much like whatever Dyno-Rod engineer gets assigned the Allardyce gig. Occasionally though, a slight chunk of light appears through the gloom and we manage to take something remotely positive from our trip, and this was to be one of those minor miracles.

Allardyce made one change from last week’s Huddersfield game if you ignore the Renford Rejects side that was sent to Cyprus midweek, with Niasse replacing Lennon. From the outset, it was quite clear that steadfast defence was the order of the day. Time after time, red shirts flooded forward, played nice looking passes around the box before a blue shirt stepped in to hack the ball forward without any sign of a shot in anger. No sooner had the ball cleared half way then it came back at pace. More nice passes. Another hacked clearance. Rinse and repeat. So it went on until just before the half. Salah picked the ball up towards the corner of the box, shrugged off the timid challenge of Martina and curled a sumptuous left footer beyond Pickford. Shite.

Allardyce made two changes at half time, withdrawing the ineffectual Niasse and the frankly awful Davies, and sending on Lennon to provide width and Schneiderlin to provide, well, something. If you figure out what, do let me know. The second half proceeded in much the same manner, Salah terrorising Martina repeatedly, Everton unable to clear their lines, fouls being given one way yet not the other. Despite the pressure, there was never really a moment where you thought they’d score again and as long as the deficit was at one, there was always a chance.

As a rule, we don’t get penalties at Anfield. Before today we’ve had one since the war. We certainly don’t get soft penalties so when Calvert-Lewin went down under minimal contact from the blundering Lovren, no one expected the referee to point to the spot. In fact, when the whistle went I fully expected a yellow card for “deceiving the match official” as the latest buzzword describes it. Penalty it was though and Wayne Rooney stepped up in his first Merseyside Derby in almost 14 years and leathered fuck out of it, straight down the middle and into the roof of the net. Fucking have that.

Be honest, you all expected a late heartbreak but one didn’t come, the closest to a winner they got was when Henderson got the ball 20 yards out, screamed GERRARD in his head and leathered the ball thirty yards over hand half way down Walton Breck Road. Full time. Not a particularly appetising feast of football but it tasted delicious nonetheless, especially after Big Yerg’s head fell clean off in his post match interview. BOOM or something equally wacky and outrageous, oh isn’t he a character? Fucking knobhead. Anyway, unbeaten still under Gravy Sam and a man of the match performance from Jonjoe Kenny who kept the normally dangerous Mané under tight wraps all game.

They’ll try and belittle you for being made up with a point there. Laugh in their fucking faces, it’ll drive them mad. Up the fucking Toffees.

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