So as the clock ticks three on Saturday you’re welcomed back into another nine months of the saga of Everton FC – ongoing since 1878 – and all the mirth and fume that it can cause. Are you ready for more?
Course you are as you’ve forgotten somewhat how they do your head in. There’s a good reason however why they’re up there with your favourite weekend distractions. You like them, you probably like them a very lot.
Usually we’d recap on the previous game at this point so I should do a quick synopsis of the summer just gone. We signed Deulofeu and Cleverly, and John Stones still remains an Everton player.
That apart it’s been pretty much more of the same. Pre season was an improvement on last summer’s offering but that wasn’t particularly difficult. There wasn’t too much to particularly inspire you apart from the good thing we’re doing with developing the young lads right now, there looks a few rich pickings there which hopefully we will see more of before they end up getting chunks kicked out of them on a nominal fee at Carlisle.
We’ve been linked with a ridiculous amount of players and many of you have fallen for it, wasting numerous hours pondering imaginary formations with the new player ragging Premier League defences to bits. But Deulofeu and Cleverley will have to do you for now, which will cause some consternation amongst those who gauge football club evolution through player acquisition – and for that I refer you across Stanley Park as a cautionary tale.
Boredom, anticipation and frustrations are bedfellows of summer but put simply none of us will know until there’s been a few balls kicked in competition. Starting this Saturday with Watford.
Watford. A new team to preview is never a bad thing and it seems we are like a magnet for a bit of strange on the opening game of the season. Quite often we succumb to their enthusiasm and our ill preparedness but let’s hope this one is quite different.
In terms of Watford as a place, as a people, as a collective identity, it’s very simple to categorise them into being very scruffy indeed. The place is scruffy, the people and it’s identity as it tries dead hard to align itself with being North London in the same way the Wirral tories identify themselves as scousers when they’re around the pool on holiday. Right until the point they order a ham and cheese batch instead of barm cake at the pool bar and you spot that everyone from the Wirral pronounces vowels in an effeminate manner.
Watford is as close to the pit of existence as you can find in the country. You’re inland so no fair coastline and sea to gaze into as a distraction, it’s located in what would be considered the bowels of the country – and the interior would testify to it. Another grey civic centre with desperate artistic commissioned touches to add a bit of individuality, think the elephant in the boat in Kirkby town centre but on a bigger scale. And much, much scruffier.
It’s full of banter so for those in the Bullens and Park End closest to the away fans this is your fair notice of the horrors about to be unleashed on your senses this forthcoming Saturday afternoon.
You can expect more than a smattering of Stone Island jackets, you can expect small knit groups of fans that look like the Inbetweeners got themselves on pure flake for the first time, you can expect slack jawed Shanes and Terrys filming each other “giving it” to the away fans from the police guarded away end. They’re back in the big time and they will enjoy it, albeit in the scruffiest manner possible. Whatever you’re doing – it just looks increasingly tacky when you do it in red and yellow, unless it’s 1977 of course.
And there’s you thinking to yourself that you were messing a bit of weekend togger?
The club itself has sold it’s soul to some franchise operating in the Italian and Spanish leagues too, a “project” where they loan each others players and the aim is ultimate profitability. Buy hey, it’s working! So was the wanton decimation of the Jewish population until the good(ish) guys stepped in.
They are managed, sorry head coached, by Quique Sanchez Flores who looks suspiciously like that Portuguese beaut linked with Everton who worn the captain’s armband as a manager. Truth is I know little about him except he’s signed/loaned a truck load of players over the summer in order to reach proficiency in the Premier League. And won’t those shiny new players just be eager to impress. The fall out from the winner their new signing is gonna score, putting Tom Cleverley on his arse in the process, is going to be delicious on Saturday night.
Because of the playing squad overhaul (coupled with my general piss poor attempts at opposition research) it’s almost nigh on impossible to predict who will start for them, so we’ll stick to those we know.
Troy Deeney is their poster boy, the big ol’ jailbird, and he is the powerful striker with obligatory cringey tattoos whose goals powered them up last season. He has an unspectacular face that looks like he was born eight months too early, the fat biff. He’s going to be all muscular and putting himself about like it’s his first week on D Ward. They also have the option of that dead fast striker, called Vydra, who you can imagine being a right pain if his tail is up and our legs are tired.
There’s two to watch out for in midfield mainly. Capoue just signed from Spurs and knows his way around the Premier League whereas Behrami was signed in the summer from Hamburg. He’s the Swiss lad who you may not recall from a disappointing spell at West Ham but he’s been around the clock since then and got a few more hair on his chest and despite looking like a disappointing University night out attempt at Pepe le Peu he will be their creative dangerman. Should he even play, I’m struggling here.
Defence will have a bunch of resolute but ultimately limited cloggers, apart from the customary ball playing Alcaraz type, and I’ve absolutely no idea who their goalkeeper is but motivation won’t be in short supply.
Any customary Everton anxiety shown in this game will only serve to lead this bunch of wastrels on. So get right into them or face the wrath of the angry pissed dars at pitch side.
A few injury wobbles make the team a little less predictable but sadly Deulofeu is ruled out for this one.
The general all round ineptness of Kone in pre season confirms that Lukaku will start for this game even if he’s half fit, and also that if Lukaku does acquire an injury we could be in a spot of bother. Martinez referenced finding a striker before the transfer window is up so hopefully that materialises and the chosen one provides some sort of credible threat to Premier League standard defences.
Cleverley will get a start as he’s been one of the relative bright spots in pre season and it will be interesting to see if he can have a notable influence over the course of a few months. He’s very much a Martinez player from the little we’ve seen so far, hence my confidence in him starting.
Mirallas should be fit, his potency and pace stands out in an often pedestrian Everton team of late and you would bet on a bagful more of points if he can sustain a period of good form, and not get sold to West Ham or wherever throws a sackful of money at his agent.
On the other side of midfield I reckon Osman will get a go and I have nothing more to add to that than recalling his ace long range goal at Vicarage Road some years ago.
For anyone expecting anything other than McCarthy and Barry in midfield then I ask you to change your mind as that’s what will be in the centre of the field, for better or worse. Usually better to be honest and it’s a little unfair with some of the groans being directed towards Barry – he’ll benefit from just one game a week this season I reckon.
Defence will contain John Stones which is a good thing as you could see in his limited time on the pitch on Sunday just what an accomplished defender he is turning into. I can sweat players being sold by us nowadays as a probable defence mechanism and also because the game is full of greedy quegs. I would be disappointed to offer up one of the best young defenders I’ve seen, no matter how many riches will be thrown at us. Let’s try and build something sound for a change.
Tim Howard in goal. Pipe down at the back there, I’m not starting him.
And that’s your Watford preview which will no doubt change as I wrote this on Tuesday under pressure from the guy who runs this very site, maybe he’s excited for the first game too?
For as much as we may lament them there’s something in your heart that makes you go whooooah at certain times and places.
And as that clock ticks three at Goodison on Saturday you’ll know that you’re right there and then.