Last Saturday, I watched Arsenal give Spurs a footballing lesson in the lunchtime kick-off game and followed that up with listening to Everton labour to a draw away at bottom of the table Crystal Palace.
I couldn’t bring myself to watch Man United roll over Newcastle live, so tuned in later for Match of the Day – to put the top hat on a thoroughly depressing day.
As I said, Arsenal taught Spurs a lesson or two, Man City strolled past Leicester though quite how Vincent Kompany escaped a red card for a cynical foul on Vardy is beyond me. I saw Chelsea, United and even Liverpool cruise past and score almost at will against West Brom, Newcastle and Southampton respectively, and then inevitably the final game to be showed, I endured, and believe me endured is the right word, the highlights of Palace versus Everton.
And if there was any lingering doubt in anybody’s mind about the gulf between Everton and the ‘top six’ this MotD highlighted it all too painfully.
Right now, Everton are a million light years from being a contender against any of the top six.
They all have pace, power, finesse, and finishing by the lorry load, whereas Everton are bereft of too many of those qualities, and worse give scant indication that any of them are incoming in the near future.
Last season, Everton were comfortably and by some margin the best of the rest – it’s beginning to look like we’ll lose that seventh place trophy to Burnley this time around.
And if the gulf in class of the football on offer is not enough to make you wonder quite how and when Everton might return to the higher echelons, we – as I assume many others were watching – then had to endure the pious and frankly two-faced punditry of Alan Shearer and Phil Neville castigating Oumar Niasse for ‘diving.’
Now as I recall the incident, the referee was no more than ten yards from and with a clear, unhindered view of the challenge by Scott Dann on Niasse and unhesitatingly awarded the penalty that Leighton Baines duly converted.
Yet Shearer and Neville proceeded to publicly and repeatedly accuse and convict Niasse of a blatant dive. I would assume that this course of punditry was discussed and agreed beforehand so Gary Lineker can also take some heat too for not even attempting to offer any degree of counter opinion for balance of such a vitriolic attack.
There was contact, even Dann could not and did not categorically deny it and in previous weeks the holier than thou Shearer has hypocritically suggested that the likes of Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero amongst others ‘are entitled to go down’ if there’s been contact.
So what exactly Mr.Shearer is different between Raheem Sterling, Alexis Sanchez, Ashley Young, Eden Hazard, Dele Alli, Sadio Mane all going down theatrically and Oumar Niasse allegedly doing likewise?
Answer… Niasse plays for unfashionable Everton while the rest play for the darling ‘top six’ in the eyes of the media. The hypocrisy of Shearer and others is quite frankly staggering.
To compound the trial by TV pundits, we then had that bastion of the correct decision Mark Clattenberg weighing in on the incident. He said he’d seen a video angle that clearly showed no contact between Dann and Niasse, a quite amazing revelation given Dann did not and still has to deny physical contact was made.
Subsequently the Football Association, somewhat belatedly and correctly it must be said, chose to act in a manner deemed to confront the growing number of ‘dive’ accusations and insinuations.
They handed Niasse a two-game ban not for diving though, but for ‘successful deception of the referee’ presumably on the grounds that he’d gone down rather too easily… but hang on, the Reverend Shearer has said it’s okay – players are ‘entitled to go down if there’s contact in the penalty area.’
Needless to say, following the outcry led by Shearer and Neville and supported by Clattenberg, the appeal lodged by Everton was unanimously dismissed by the totally anonymous three-person adjudication panel.
Had the referee felt that Niasse had dived or simulated contact, he would have shown the player a yellow card and probably nobody would have complained. There’s no denying that Niasse did go down probably too easily, but who can really, truly judge how the speed a player is running at and the amount of contact will affect his balance?
However it’s now official, Oumar Niasse, and by association Everton FC, have been branded, charged and convicted as cheats.
What could have been a yellow card and little more than a quick discussion has now escalated into a major talking point and one that will not go away. Every single incident of a player going down in the penalty area should now come under exacting and minute deliberation and examination.
It remains to be seen whether Shearer jumps straight down the throat of an Aguero, Sterling, Young, Hazard, Alli, or Sanchez in the same hypocritical, spiteful and two-faced manner he did that of Oumar Niasse – I for one won’t be holding my breath waiting for him to castigate a player of the ‘top six’ in the same manner.
Away from the on-field woes of Everton, the club continues to confuse its supporters with the manner in which they’re going about appointing a replacement for the departed Ronald Koeman.
We’ve had umpteen names bandied around – Dyche, Allardyce, Tuchel, Ancellotti, van Gaal to name a few and of course Marco Silva of Watford. Allardyce and van Gaal thankfully ruled themselves out of contention – one wonders were they ever really in contention?
Media reports have suggested that Everton have offered anywhere between £8 and £15 million compensation to Watford for the services of Marco Silva, and this despite the Watford club clearly refusing permission for Silva to be contacted and talked to about the Goodison hotseat.
Whether he has a genuine interest in or desire to become Everton manager is to my mind neither here nor there, he is contracted to Watford and they have stonewalled any approach.
Everton supporters have no knowledge of what process is being worked on or indeed by whom to determine a shortlist of potential new managers.
We have a Director of Football and nobody outside of the inner sanctum of the club has any real idea of what Steve Walsh is responsible for.
The club have been steadfast in remaining quiet and offering no official word on the managerial appointment process.
There are suggestions that there is possible division between the Board of Directors and the major shareholder Farhad Moshiri.
Do the BoD want person A while Moshiri wants person B?
Moshiri isn’t on the BoD, but it’s his financial muscle that will ultimately be needed to secure whoever the eventual choice is, so it would kind of make sense for there to be some degree of unity between the BoD and the money.
Finally for this ramble, for the past six months or so, I’ve listened intently to a series of podcasts – Everton Business Matters – hosted by the Blue Room. Three chaps, Rodger, John and Paul, who are patently rabid Evertonians and well versed in business operations and corporate structure matters.
They have and I’m sure will repeatedly bang the drum for change within and throughout the club, change in personnel and change in attitude and given the way this current season has evolved never mind the last twenty years, it’s difficult to pick too many holes in their arguments.
The latest edition, Episode 14, again highlights severe misgivings about the operation of many aspects of the club, I heartily recommend giving it a listen, here’s the link…