And so it was, finally, that the long awaited invasion of the red planet with no atmosphere was a success. The team with the blue badge parachuted in and found the place barren, confirming rumours of local inhabitants were untrue after all. We were promised stars but we had to squint hard and yet only could make out a few fading ones who struggled with the gravity. Then two days later Everton beat Liverpool at Anfield by two goals to zip.
How’s your week been?
Aye mine too.
Just how do you frame a being, a thing, like Everton. There you are, all desolate at shitting it twice in one week, yet the week ends in as controlled a display from them tricky toffees as Anfield as you’re likely to see for some time, Hope we don’t have to wait a few decades more for the next time. And that was it really, job done, curse over, spell broken, level upped. Was it really that difficult or was it all in our, their, heads?
If Carlo Ancelotti was looking for pointers, statements of intent, then that should be a help towards it. What left is there to fear but fear itself? All of them, Manager, coaches, players, fans, should get a huge dose of belief that they are capable of stepping up from this and various other results against the best opposition in the league this season. It’s just the other games, the ones Everton are expected to win, that seem to be the problem now. St Domingo’s has always been that type of conundrum though – a veritable whack a mole of issues simple and complex that quick fire rear their heads in front of whatever unfortunate bastard is leading the team. Everton have just needed a calm, confident and experienced hand to navigate it for quite some time.
Perhaps this time is **really** different.
Back down to earth (from the red planet) Everton lie seventh and five points behind a David Moyes team residing in fourth place, so there’s no time to rest on laurels or think anything palpable has been achieved when there’s much greater prizes on offer this season, if Everton really really want them. In many ways this is the true test of mettle – the show after the Lord Mayor’s Show, where we test the resolve and ambition of those in our ranks in sweating the points from the easier takings. Everton are still players and experience short of the real good stuff this season, save from a proven few everyone else should be fighting their damnedest to be part of those future ambitions. The usual foibles of Everton and this topsy turvy season don’t make it as plain sailing as that, however.
It’s a surreal season all things told, where anyone can beat anyone and triumph is around any next corner as frequently as tragedy. Just study the two week period for Everton commencing with an injury time equaliser at Old Trafford followed by gutsy 5-4 cup win over Spurs invoking much euphoria, then 3 day meek losses against Fulham and Man City prompting widespread Simon & Garfunkel during a break up. Fast forward only 3 more days to an Anfield win and we’re all gonna live forever and ever. It’s not in like the Gary roulette that perhaps you rolled sometime in the nineties. It does absolutely nothing for the nerves nor belief.
So when Southampton come to Goodison with one league win in eight and big players out injured, then we already have an idea of how the script plays out. Their last win incidentally being against Liverpool where their third place in Butlin’s Klopp-a-like competition winner sank to his knees before his idol in a scene that somehow managed to be both Planet Of The Apes ending and some tawdry X Factor cut scene. One can only imagine it made Fate herself cringe that hard that she has now pegged him and his team real fucking hard for two month since, and may yet still throw them to the relegation wolves for which I’m sure no one including their own fans would even object.
Then again this is Southampton fans we are talking about where cringe seems to be a currency prevalent as bitcoin is amongst people who operate fifty quid gaming mouses, believe COVID is a hoax and fantasise over Japanese cat-girl cartoons of a questionable age. Should you ever have the misfortune to witness a modern Southampton away end, or indeed any of their fans under 35 years old then you’ll find a gregarious amount of overcompensation going on. Think “tekkers”, think Stone Island straight out of TK Maxx, think reciting Soccer AM over a “cheeky” Desperado, think necking that Desperado in one then getting your cock out in the pub, think low grade sleeve tattoos and a dumbbell by the door to get your pump on before leaving home, think a Range Rover on lease in your mate’s name, think doing a line in the bogs and making sure everyone hears it both in action and telling your mates about it on return, think lad week away twenty t shirts displaying nicknames such as Shagger Rude-Boy Jamie Ass Monkey and King Terry, think Boris is alright, think your favourite film being Fast And The Furious.
Which is a shame as there’s still a fertile older group of their fans who just want to go the game for all the good reasons (get away from the house and her, drink reasonably priced alcohol in comforting places, hate your team, scran a take away on the way home and whatever is left in the microwave). It was deeply reassuring to interact with some of them (hi Nick & mates) who told me the older ones drank the other side of London from their younger Inbetweeners-on-their-first-line cringeleaders as if they were the opposition fans. This type of self loathing and cold appraisal of both your club and fans is what separates us from the rest in my eyes, so it was nice to realise we’re not alone. There’s others too, we can only hope that imaginary voyages to other planets find them.
And this is why they simply must be beaten. Not because it furthers Everton’s cause but because fate dumped us on the same green bit of rain & wind swept rock as them. Sure we can ignore them but failing to better them, to humiliate them, gives pathway to them normalising and – fear it most – spreading. If we tolerate this then your Wigan will be next. And it’s right on our doorstep, too late, mate. The quest to destroy someone’s ego to ground zero in the hope they will then be able to look in the mirror and recognise their own reflection to mend their ways is noble, Dominic and friends I hope you’re listening. Hurt them. Run to the camera and call them filthy Titanic fondling slags if you score. Pull out a Matt Le Tissier piñata hang it from the goalpost then ignore it and assault their keeper with your bat instead. Then have sex with the piñata as the stadium announcer shouts your name with “Everton’s goal scorer” as the prefix. Three points is not enough, their eternal damnation will only sate us. Only then will they learn and just sit down shut up and watch the game. Go sign that Ward-Prowse too just because we can. Cheers. KA.
Think that covers Southampton whilst also guaranteeing Lady Fate drops them, picks us up and proceeds to peg us instead for the near future starting with their undoubted win at Goodison this coming Monday evening.
Everton are approaching a rarer event than an Anfield win by virtue of a squad nearly at full fitness (fate please spare us this once) which means Calvert-Lewin and Allan will be fit to start.
I’m as unsure as ever of how this will effects the dynamics of who will start and not, as Richarlison is looking much better in the centre forward role then tucked away on the left, scoring four goals in those four games played there. With a visit to Large Samuel’s Slop Factory coming just three days afterwards I would not be surprised to see DCL start on the bench for this too. Lest we forget what a talent Richarlison is even if he’s taken far too long to get pumping this season, he could be critical in achieving any ambitions remaining this season. There’ll be James and Iwobi in amongst it somewhere there too.
The midfield now perhaps turns into a strength with Allan’s return. We need to talk about Tom Davies and not in the almost satirical antagonistic poking at the dars way. The past two months has seen a real step up in his development for which credit goes to both player and coaching team. At very worst Everton have a passionate local squad player for cover and to develop when Allan’s knees work no more, or Corinthians whoever come calling for his swan-song. That’s all there is to say really, there’s no need for grandiose proclamations or projections of glory, just leave young humans be to develop in an environment likely to benefit Everton. That’s the message. Sigurdsson stood up when others would have floundered, I’m sure we wont be quick to forget that, he may have played his way back in the Manager’s eyes. Doucoure wasn’t at his best but I’m sure the nine day gap will serve his gangly legs well, and he’s one of the staples of this team. Is it too soon for Allan to start? Probably in much the same way that Ancelotti will have one eye on the fat Wrigley lizard king three days later. This will be a game that whoever is picked simply must win their battles and press the play in Everton’s favour.
Mina is out so that will mean Keane and one of Godfrey or Holgate in there, the latter having a really much needed good game at Anfield. If he can handle Mane then he shouldn’t be lacking in confidence or conviction handling nearly anyone else in the league. Digne at left back and Holgate or Coleman shall be at right back, probably. Truly made up for Pickford but that is just a start, he now has to cement that mental hurdle overcome by us simply not talking about him in the next few games.
Seems that every time I write a preview as positive as this that it’s a prelude to the Mr Hyde (apt) to our Dr Jekyll turning up. No one incubates anxiety quite like Everton, at what minute did you stop thinking Liverpool was going to score twice? Final whistle?
All this launch-padding, all this plotting of glory, is grand but is nothing more than a narrative that seldom comes true. It was Epicurus who said that the fool, with all his other faults, has this also, he is always getting ready to live. It’s time for Everton to start actualising stuff, real tangible stuff, but while also occasionally suspending the telescope to the future to take appreciation of the stirring that perhaps is happening now. Oh man, wonder if he’ll ever know, he’s in the best selling show.
You know the rest, and that bookends things quite nicely.