I’m writing this out of nothing more than compulsion, certainly not hope.
Consider “this” a stool sample, an MOT, renewing your TV License. Being forced to play duck apple. Buying for Valentines Day. Replacing your boxies because there’s an ozone layer appeared in a crotch or three. The first day back at work after the holidays. Hailstone on your face. A blister on your heel. A 6am flight. Really shit cheese. Driving through Lincolnshire. The latest Need For Speed film. Your tax return. Chopping half your finger tip off cutting the coriander when not paying attention.
Maybe it’s me that’s part of the problem by approaching it like this but, dear reader, I’m tired. My only salvation in this fixture lies in the growing ambivalence I have towards it, whether that’s just in the passing of a time or self preservation feature I don’t know. Nor I fucking care. Give me an Everton that can change these feelings and at that very moment I’ll know this Everton is a different one, this time they’re not fucking about, and adjust my optimism accordingly.
But maybe just maybe this time it really will be different?
Like f**k. Two home defeats in three days haven’t helped. There’s been plenty worse Evertons going into this fixture but seldom many better Liverpools, even considering that they’re not in a happy place right now but they won’t be facing the gigantic mental block that only a 21 year festival of shitting it can bring. The Everton team doesn’t need encouragement, it needs counselling for this game.
The Man City result was expected so no sweat there but there’s still a monumental hangover of resentment from the Fulham game which exposed the most unpalatable of all versions of Everton – the complete shithouse. It’s this exact version of Everton that turns up to Anfield most years hence a couple of paragraphs there trying poorly to articulate my despondency for only four and a half Chinese spambots that will read this.
Aside from the ninety odd minutes on the pitch it’s also a time of celebrating our sporting differences on Merseyside. There’ll needling of the other side and declarations of bravado on both sides, and maybe even some jovial Merseyside Merseyside Merseyside Milk Cup Final (that Everton still managed to shit after a replay) back and forth from the older heads and family. A witty passing comment or smirk. All there. These days though the main currency is, well, spite.
I’m not quite sure if that’s just an expression of each generation becoming edgier than the one before or just squarely down to the internet, but it’s if you log in this week then you’ll need the nimbleness of nipping across town in the darkest days of Sarajevo as a truck load of wannabe electronic snipers unload on the mere glimpse of pulse.
There’s two very distinct cultural wars clashing during derby week. The sweet paradoxical mixture of anger and ambivalence of Everton and whatever it is that Big Red are trying for at the time. Image is really important to Partisan Pocket Pissers and perhaps influenced by an eternity of being told they’re special while indulged by a complicit media straight out of Pyongyang on Kim Jong the whatever’s birthday. It’s a self created monster by the Latin American Linguistic Experts, them being something supernatural is invoked via messaging such as “This Means More” and the like. It attracts many of the type of person you’d imagine, they who’s willing to forgo an pre match extra pint to instead go lift a tatty scarf over their heads amongst fellow sweating humans and perpetuate an act for cameras that no one apart from themselves is arsed about.
And for the kopite puritan this comes at a cost. This gigantic fuck off beacon for the vain and superficial transmits around the world every game. Attracted by this and their trying to be cooler than everyone else (ACOUSTIC GUITAR SINGALONGS THOUGH LAD), it delivers the step-sibling they never wanted but has now moved in on their top bunk: the LFC Family. The piss just seeps through.
You see you can’t be the coolest cats in town, a self appointed cultural hub for admirers all over der werld, if you’ve got all kinds of bat shit crazy doing channels and podcasts and memes in your name. Yet from Calcutta to County Cork there’s card carrying avid kopites with access to camera and microphone suddenly fired up to high heaven as bright red, eager, Church Of The Latter Day St Rafa Cardinal evangelicals. And they’re ready to belong, to celebrate this redemption from the complete absence of identity they once felt in their lives. Yet now, once or twice a week, they gather together as one – let’s say figuratively in in a Spanish plaza – to gaze up and be covered in a bukkake of reflected glory from the fountain of King Kenny – lets say figuratively from a bald fat man perched on a pillar masturbating as fully grown humans including families cheer.
Their out of towners provide such a stream of income and exposure to the mothership that they it only encourages further acts of over compensation. Hey presto! The self appointed Crosby Che Guevaras, our plucky outsiders raging against the oppressive corporate machine, become cheerleaders of the peak corporate machine – with fistfuls of ready to be touted season tickets as their pom-poms. Their cosplaying of control is thus exposed and I think it’s rather fitting that we face them in a week of Texans without power.
Before anyone casts a stone against our our of towners just consider for one moment what payoff these pitiful creatures get? Midnight kick offs, early morning starts? Except for them there is no big bald man spitting his feel good custard all over these unfortunate souls, no celebratory bumper stickers, no warm glow. Oh no instead ours have got the world’s longest running Greek Tragedy in royal blue crushing their very souls and ruining weekends for them and all they love. Call them masochists if you will, or just incredibly staunch.
Tomorrow I’ll be despising the Bolshevik Bannermen as good as anyone but “them” includes a lot of people I drink with, family, people I love, so it can only ever be a temporary notion. Being people predisposed to a good argument, our football teams give us perhaps the biggest dividing line. Family parties and work spaces would be too vanilla without them. This city could never be Newcastle it just wouldn’t work, all this unity and getting along, much better to walk our constant trapeze line between ridicule and relief. We shouldn’t forget that our little hamlet on the Mersey has more enemies outside the city that in it, but for this week anyway it’s Sarajevo.
Onto Everton, and it’s something of a wonder who will play. Ancelotti has been tearing it up of late with my conclusion that it’s probably best to stick to the same team and ping a few hamstrings. Squad rotation has never really been our thing when for the best part of decades we’ve struggled to put just 11 out there who will turn up on the day.
Got to hope Calvert Lewin is fit for this as – even when not scoring – his presence and hold up play up top makes Everton just that little bit more purposeful. If he makes it that would probably mean Richarlison up there on the left and – depending on how Ancelotti views this -either the industry of Iwobi or supposed James conundrum on the right. I’m not getting involved in that one, bet you Davies is made up they’re turning on the galactico instead though.
Please God just let Allan be fit so him and Doucoure, maybe even Tom Davies too, can throw a tackle in the middle. Their defence and midfield is decimated by injury and movement, so the only real glimmers of hope for Everton getting a foothold in the game is them having at least some personnel to not shit it in there.
Of course the gangly Colombian blocking machine is injured so it’s gonna be Keane and either Godfrey or Holgate next to him, which should help at least with that thing the Crimson Covid Spreaders do where they play diagonals over our defence and we turn slower than the four seasons. Whoever of Holgate or Godfrey plays will likely determine who plays out of Digne or Coleman at full back. The Italian will probably go for Pickford in this one which should be fun for the commentators as they haven’t shut up about him since the last derby.
Just hurt that little fucking ferret Robertson.
And thats about it really. It didn’t really get any better from the despondency to begin with did it? Perhaps this is a free hit for Everton and someone should tell the players, could be the counselling they need.
The stakes aren’t particularly high but shit it and Everton are on three losses in a week, with the pressure machine fully fired up. Not to forget the poor quality goading you’re gonna encounter from all the scarlet drones in your world. Mind you, we managed to land a robot on on another big red world this week so maybe that’s an omen. Just can’t switch that hope off can I?
It’s true there was once a really sound Red and he said hope is a dangerous thing, but in the end hope is all we got.