A look back at the month that was. Everton were sound.
Two home wins and two away draws pushed an unbeaten streak in the league since Christmas to 9 games, yielding a healthy 21 points. The result of which has pushed Everton from being an insignificance, to an annoyance, to a threat to the six teams above. It’s my personal view that it won’t be enough to catch onto them as we have United, Arsenal, Spurs and the shite away, and runaway leaders Chelsea at home in the remaining 12 games to play.
It has however been a welcome period for Everton in which we’ve shored up an insecure defence and got some genuine grit and performance into the club – thus generating the most wondrous commodity in football for fans: hope.
It’s tempered by Everton being, well, Everton but there’s a change of atmosphere around the club with Koeman and his in tune with the fanbase fierce ambition and refusal of anything other than full effort and application. Also there’s the feeling that Moshiri does have money to throw at Everton competing at the top table again – even if it’s a tough ask. The model and structure they’re putting together is meant to be gradual but sustainable and it was only today that Koeman was happy to tell Sky Sports that after this summer’s transfer window he feels he can get the right players and compete for the top four places in the league. Hmmm.
There’s a certain air around Goodison, even if you and I are waiting for it all to explode to bits as it usually does.
I’m meant however to be surmising the month of February so I’ll make a start.
Can they do it on a cold night in Stoke cliches were left unanswered as Everton fought a draw against a very game and up for it Stoke.
It was clear from the get go that Stoke fancied themselves in this game and put in one of their better performances of the season, with grit in the tackle and verve in the play. It was put simply the type of game Everton usually succumb to and dull your misplaced optimism.
An early Peter Crouch goal from a simple long ball over the top and subsequent robot celebration was not the start Everton wanted but Everton hung on in there and clawed back control of the centre of the park. Reward came just before half time as Coleman whacked in a shot and Ryan Shawcross – fresh out of his hardman stage and right into his indie stage – diverted it past their keeper. Not so however. Offside was called until the rarity of an arl arse Everton team haranguing the ref pointed out that the linesman had gave it as a goal. Your man Shawcross and others trying to talk the referee out of his walk over to his assistant, one whistle later and the goal stands. One all Everton and right up everyone of your stinking Stoke mothers.
Second half played out and a useful point assured with one eye on a pleasant Saturday afternoon fixture v struggling Bournemouth. Getting to drive out of Stoke for a life somewhere else was truly the victory of the evening though.
One of them mad games which you’ll be able to recall in decades from now. Lit up in no small part by a four goal salvo from Romelu Lukaku to propel him to top of the Premier League scoring charts, Sunday paper rumours and dreaded Belgian press conferences with the national team. Mino said it’s all OK though.
Anticipation was heightened before the game with Lookman edging his way into an increasingly youthful Everton starting XI and what most considered opposition fodder for Everton’s goal difference.
Such optimism was rewarded with Everton surging to a three goal advantage with relative ease in the first half. Loads of yer dars missing the first goal after merely 30 seconds from the big Belgian lashing one in from the edge of the box. This was followed up by a rare James McCarthy goal which spawned in and then a gift of a back pass to Lukaku who seldom looks a gifthorse in the mouth. He dived right down it’s throat. Tres cero los azules.
Naturally that would be just too cosy for Everton so before you know it a resurgent Bournemouth picked up on Everton complacency to bring it back to 3-2 and the driving-an-XR3i-round-an-Essex town looking Arter lashing one destined for the Gwladys St net before Robles dived right and pounded it out. Then lashed the ball into the Upper Gwladys in anger.
Changes were made by the Dutch semolina face on our bench. Schneiderlin started owning the ball like it was his Christmas casey and suddenly Lukaku, Lukaku again and Barkley made it six and Bournemouth can get the fuck back to being a south coast hemorrhoid and never ever think they have the right to share our fucking pitch with us the irrelevant tory bastards. It was their biggest day out ever, the half and half scarfing flids.
Barkley caused some mirth when adopting the famed arrogance of “next goal the winner” on the summer playing field as celebrated the goal before kicking it into the Park End net. My favourite part however was the anxious behaviour of the Park End who were shitting themselves and fuming at him to put it in the net expecting him to flop it over the crossbar. Never change Everton.
A illustrious as a Stoke away day saw Everton travel to another UKIP heartland full of inherent bigotry and England flags outside houses for summer tournaments. Alas this was winter and therefore one fucking grim place to visit.
Middlesbrough were well drilled as we expected them to be and Everton not as good as we wanted them to be and therefore the final score of 0-0 was without much argument.
Post game there was the usual frustration of “needing to win games like these” which is understood but you’ve not been following Everton for that long if you invest heavily in that. Plus Tony Grant wasn’t playing so of course we weren’t going to win.
Our FA Cup exit meant lids had a fortnight to dwell on it which is always a bit of a shitter. Nothing much to report from this game as you can tell by me hastily moving on.
David Moyes made his second return to Everton and consistent with his previous visit he was under considerable pressure with his current team. Just like last time he got put to bed without too much hassle. Although there was no lad bible oi oi Paddy Power banter with a fat middle aged man dressing up as a grim reaper located in the crowd by him.
The same Everton startling line up remained which meant a third straight game for Lookman, and with fellow young gun Davies complimenting a tasty midfield of Schneiderlin and Gueye – the latter which had come in for some criticism from Ronko over his previous performance v Boro.
Gueye responded with a fantastic performance full of his old effective energy around the pitch and a first Premier League goal swept in with aplomb from yet another Coleman assist, his third in the last six Everton goals.
In the second half Everton paid the ultimate tribute to their former boss Moyes by sitting back ten yards too deep and anxious on a one goal lead and that strategy nearly backfired as Jermaine Defoe wiggled free on the edge of the box and rattled the crossbar.
Not to worry though as like fuck Gueye is letting any Sunderland player get the ball past him and suddenly it’s with Mirallas and then even quicker it’s with Lukaku who’s got Sunderland’s entire half open to him and just Bryan Oviedo for company and the ending was as predictable as yer Nanna having tea at 4.30pm every day, and fish on Fridays. Fucking reek of them kippers. 2-0 St Domingo’s Weekend Club for Boys & Girls and the points were firmly in the bag from then. Only Enner Valencia storming through and shooting at Pickford’s legs was any danger to that.
The whistle blowed and that February’s football wrapped up, and before you know it we are within five points of the November champions elect. Imagine that? Can’t see it myself. This season.
There’s a natural tendency to over egg the potential of young local lads breaking into the Everton team as they’re living the dream of thousands of young scouse lads like you or I, or the wools, the wools are sound by me.
We’ve seen it over the course of the history of the club and with some success but for every Royle there’s two Michael Branches, for every Harvey there’s a Billy Kenny and John Ebbrell. Not forgetting them jibbing us over, a la McMahon (shithouse) or Rooney (more of him later). So there’s very few that get themselves in the team, perform, stay and continue to perform and lead a scouse led revolution of Everton’s success – if we do share the same dream that is.
Barkley is currently surfing the waves of success and pitfalls and now alongside him he finds Tom Davies of West Derby. Aptly given the moniker of Ketwig Kaiser. There’s something special about him but not in the Barkley way of jaw dropping game changing piece of talent, it’s more in the consistency of him and the complete range he seemingly possesses. Passing, skill, shooting, work rate, mentality and all the other things needed for a complete player he demonstrates. Add to that his penchant for Batistuta hair, rolled down socks and black fucking boots. All over that. Barkley is a weekend in Vegas on your credit card, Davies is a week in New York on your bonus..
I’m tempering like fuck here because there’s a long way for him to develop but right now he’s very much on merit keeping the mainstay of Everton’s midfield for the previous 3 years McCarthy and Barry out of the team.
He’s an Evertonian, he’s a scouser, he’s ace. That’s a holy trinity of commodities we hold dear right there. I’m terrified to type too many grandiose words as he’s only two fucking months into an Everton career and just 18 years old.
He’s good though, real good.
Another month where we haven’t had to talk about the goalkeeper position which is a rarity in Everton of recent times. Not that there’s been nothing to remark as there’s been some really good and vital saves at important times (Stoke, Bournemouth and Bournemouth for example) but the air of confidence of a keeper not making us fume is easy to look over lest we jinx it, but we shouldn’t.
He even comes out for crosses and takes the vast majority of them. Nor do you see the ball sailing over his head from 30 yards.
It’s weird but I like it. If we we feel this way in May then the search should be for competition or a number 2. Not a new number 1 as we already have him.
I never saw him play but there’s something enchanting about the estimation he was held by the Evertonians who I look up to. He was almost deity reverence amongst my Dad and uncles generation. Such adoration and emotion when speaking about him was not gained easy in my book. Considering the bad arl arses sneer at everything else that was meant to be sound way back then. There’s not extensive footage to preserve the talent he bestowed upon Goodison which is a shame as in the future you kids and grandkids will be able to youtube “the best of Ibrahim Bakayoko” and educate themselves of the dumb shitgibbon with his swirling arm movements and “blasters” which seldom hit the target.
It can be trite to raise the club you follow and it’s culture as better than anyone else’s as everyone’s club they fanatically support is special to them, their identity and the community it comes from. There is however something different in Everton and their values – not saying it is unique – but the appreciation for those who served Everton with effort, skill and success is as important as it’s what’s on the field at present. The pension pay off for success is a lifetime of appreciation, and free pints in the various pubs around Goodison – or wherever we may play sometime hopefully soon.
Never mind to have a nickname of The Golden Vision. May we see his likes again soon. Maybe we have one already?
RIP Alex Young. You made a lot of older blues I know so so happy.
With his face/head like: toxic blancmange, someone doughnutting jellyfish on Formby beach, an unloved moon, an overnight soaked hock of ham, a Home Economics dish, something Mount Etna spat out, a school semolina, a tide exposed coral reef, sunrise over Mars, like a dreadful yoghurt, an obnoxious marshmallow, Stay Puft’s sphincter, a cheap sunken duvet, a tooth extraction, an enchanted mushroom, a collapsed tent, a haunted kumquat, a sunken loaf, a waterlogged Rice Krispy, a swollen teste, a dilapidated barn, a 20 tog duvet, an overinflated casey.
Hope he sticks around.
Because it looks like it could be on. When your Manager and Director Of Football are matter of fact heaping praise on him and he’s spewed China and United don’t want him and Everton want to make a statement and fuck it. Up to you how you feel. Kone and Valencia waiting in the wings makes me revisit my prior feelings about him. He’s only lashing a winner in and fist pumping to the Gwladys away from reconciliation with me anyway, and I’m sure that will make him sleeper tighter of a night.
Your shout anyway mate.
It’s easy to write positive words during unbeaten runs. February threw Stoke, Bournemouth, Middlesbrough and Sunderland at us so the reality is we should not be celebrating it too much as it’s sort of expected to pick results up against them. Nor are we on the precipice of a Kevin Brock moment of unstoppable surge of Everton greatness. It’s different these days, what with the competition and the money and that.
But Everton are getting better and that’s never a bad thing, unless you need to dip at home to Man City to stop Atletico Big Stand winning that which they desire the most. Oh fuck off Ross.
Onto March then.