Manchester United v Everton

Resistance is the mother of turmoil, a wise person never once said. This journey around the sun we partake in is gonna throw failures, rejections and crises your way and your refusal to accept them, your resistance, causes the the anguish. 

Is there a point to me chatting this self help book utter bilge you may be asking yourself and the answer is absolutely not, but we gotta start the words rolling somewhere and this is just happens where it begins today. 

In a topsy turvy season bearing testimony to the influence of you and your type inside stadiums there have been few trends other than inconsistency itself. Yet the paradox that is Everton seems to enjoy its new surroundings, like waking up in a trippy dream with that awareness things just aren’t really real. Cut free from any real expectation or consequence we’ve seen some times of genuinely enjoyable Everton acting in a manner we wish they would be, like for example a first half at Leeds bristling with verve, aggression and front foot initiative. Then a second half of discipline and guts. Two faces of one handsome Everton. 

Of course there’s still that petulant Everton in there to chasten us lest we get too optimistic, Newcastle being an example of that, and the two games earlier this season against this weekend’s opposition. But then no one was really expecting Everton to turn into a juggernaut and CRUSH all before them in this weird, call-someone-3am-and-ask-if-they-have-anymore haze of a season. Ok pass the poppers then.

What should hearten – more for the future as much as now – is that this version of Everton like to respond when they’ve suffered a disappointment. You’ve seen this a few times during the season and, coupled with the aforementioned digging in capability, could well be the first hint of character and spine we have seen in an Everton for quite some time. Whether that’s by virtue of players, manager or just luck I couldn’t say. It is very much welcome though. 

So a trip to Manchester United PLC and Old Trafford ™  await next. The Red Devil’s © being an example of prevailing in this peculiar season with this fixture being hot on the heels of a nine zip demolition of high flying Southampton just one week after losing at home to rock bottom Sheffield United. On the whole though United seem to be on the up as Solskjaer has attempted more attempts on his life than credible Russian political opposition to somehow knit together a team that find many wins. They currently sit second in the table. 

It’s a weird one with Ole at the wheel as they have swung about from the absurd to the quite frightening yet look like there’s more about them then there has been since we sold them the Moyes vaccine to immunise themselves against a disease they never knew they had. The subsequent eight seasons have shown that whilst Man Utd can throw a nice idea and ridiculous resources at all it faces every season it’s no guarantor of success, you need someone to knit it all together. An expensive lesson that the best little Iranian we know has learned at Everton too. 

You see unlike Football Manager, FIFA Ultimate Team or Fantasy Football there just isn’t a formula of proficiency that once learned will lead to serotonin all around and much acclaim. No there’s all manner of variables and intricacies involved with many of them not entirely under your control, and then – like a dastardly voice in your head – a hysteria prone media narrating your every fuck up and millions of even more hysteria prone arm chair executive stakeholders consulting themselves about your strategy. Their combined accountability is zero, Solskjaer’s is total. There’s an immeasurable amount of unwritten prescriptions every game for their chosen football team’s result as an anti depressant. Fail to deliver the dose of dopamine and you may as well as slashed their first born. 

Denial of self reflected glory is a fully blown pandemic of its own and for which there is no vaccine, not even Moyes. It’s human nature sure, but then so is “form” and that’s certainly not applicable to players, less so when “we pay their wages”. It’s the big show and everyone gotta say in a society where opinions are married with entitlement but divorced from accountability. You may have noticed I’m not previewing Manchester United here, I’m previewing YOU. You disgusting locust on the working class game, the beautiful game, you’ve turned football fans into at best a wrestling crowd and at worst a narcissistic collective super-being displaying all the worst traits of a teenager. 

So aye, down with hysteria mate, especially when padding out previews. 

It’s at this point I’m meant to add a few mean satirical words about Mancunians but the fact is there’s no much different to you or I. Our parochial nature in Liverpool means we can effortlessly ostracise and denigrate the humans half a mile up the road from us, throw in huge dollops of scouse exceptionalism and you’ve got a fertile ground for ripping Mancs. And sure there’s lesser standards at down the M62 in sartorial standards and mating habits, but they’re alright. When you consider they’ve had the rougher deal, being placed further down the line in our canal centipede with us getting the nourishment and them having to wait until even after the wools for their turn. They’re the most successful English champions of all time so they’ve done alright for being dealt such a hand, no pity here. 

But now they must be slain. 

Probably not by Everton but let’s have a look at who may take part in that attempt anyway. 

Calvert Lewin will start although in what system who knows, and that’s a fine thing we’ve got an Everton manager who’s prepared to switch systems and make the players comfortable with it. I’ve seen a few of the now rare DCL detractors pop up again in the past week from a long hibernation. Take a subsection of society and you’ll always get some loons so it’s fine to treat them as just that. Richarlison isn’t having the best time and has played a few games in succession now so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rotated for this under the auspices of rest. Being in the position to bench James Rodriguez and win isn’t too shabby a sign of progress, perhaps he will return for this too, where we may need some magic as much as toil. 

There’s certain players who help others around them look better and I consider us having two of them in Allan and Doucoure. Our hope being that they rub off on others in that midfield until we can add the final pieces. So it’s with interest to see Gomes doing better lately but I loathe want to jinx that. Sigurdsson suited that high press against Leeds so one can only wish we don’t wait to long to see it again. It’s prudent to assume there’ll be three midfielders for this but I don’t know who they will be, only that a rested combative Davies is likely to be back. Whether that’s a good thing or not to you doesn’t seem to bother Ancelotti too much.

The real big progressive success this season has been Carlo’s leather gloves, but after that you’d have to say the defence. Whilst we’re still missing a high quality right back and keeper there’s options across it, and it’s better than its previous versions at stopping goals. Ben Godfrey is a sort isn’t he? It worked well with his pace and aggression next to Mina, and he will probably get apply that as partner to Keane for this too. You’ve all eulogised enough so no need for me to add more, neither on the keeper – just let common sense prevail. 

So that’s the prize on offer and I’ve done a few previews this season for such games with grand expectations but it never quite works out the way I wished. That’s fine as it’s possibly a sign of a team that just isn’t quite there yet but is making nice progress to be enjoyed nonetheless.

It’s on that basis that it’s perhaps best to just let it flow and enjoy the ride. Let it be, as someone wise most definitely once said. 

Try not resist then. 

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