Everton v Southampton Preview

He’s behind you. 

Anyone not believing this is all an elaborate pantomime by now is a sheeple, or whatever the smoke-too-much-weed-watch-too-much-YouTube biffs call others. When we last corresponded I wished you a pleasant summer, a carefree summer of nice weather on your skin, a return to freedom and company and a break from Everton pervading your leisure time. 

We got just over a week before Real Madrid showed a flash of stocking top and Ancelotti’s wedding ring disappeared into this waistcoat, or that wee pocket on jeans that was only ever used to hide Mitsubishis and doves in until the bouncers got wise, presumably within the hour. Everton then took a month to conduct an exhaustive recruitment process, leaving no stone unturned, before agreeing on quite possibly the most divisive choice out there, a man who is revered on flags over at Anfield. The Spaniard who had done a deep analysis of Everton then went all out to sign Andros Townsend, Demarai Gray and Begovic to solve this in readiness for the new season. Which is where you join us now, dear reader, for an opener against Southampton at Goodison this Saturday. 

Whether you wanted Ancelotti to be leading us into a new season or not is your choice, cowboy, same as if you want Rafa Benitez doing it instead – although my concerns if the decision making of a Spaniard who prefers the weather and food of the Wirral compared to his own land. Same could have been said for the Formby Signori with the excitable eyeslug but then the abundant tapas told. Although in fairness I’d sell my first born for a plate of boquerones and a glass of wine, and I don’t even have kids.

Oh and to round off that summer Mr Kenwright is riding a JCB with a hard hat on down on the docks to pierce the hallowed banks of the royal blue Mersey to start on attempt number 4 of a new stadium for Everton to play in, quite the script this new series.

So now the panto season is over let’s get back to our usual transmission of ruining weekends one at a time through a hazy veil of cheap lager, Hot Woks and dodging dirty horse eggs in your brand new trabs. I’m convinced that most of the stuff you choose to do or buy in this life is essentially either an anti depressant or a distraction, I’m fairly sure we can file away Everton as the latter.

Bu wha abar the 04/05 season lad bet you was saying that too? No mate, I was balls deep in all sorts of hedonism out in Spain, mark that down as the former rather than latter, and like fuck I would have swapped it for the Wirral. Appoint me as Manager you fucks, or better still let’s do something radical – like erm I don’t know – putting together a few year period of sustained Everton improvement, bringing the fans all over the world much glee and belief that the scores of people getting very rich off the big blue L4 cash cow – players and leaders – should remain there without threat of pitchfork. I wasn’t planning a rant as my mood has been largely apathetic but my fingers are just hitting buttons on their own accord and it feels kinda therapeutic. The blame is far and wide, so can the institution fuck off giving us PR exercises and just do what the fuck you’re meant to do, all of you.

Which leads perfectly onto what the remedy is for all this, as it’s sure easy to bleat and complain but always better if you bring a solution. My solution is fiendishly simple: humiliate the fuck out of Southampton on Saturday.

It’s not particularly because of the club itself which is alright actually, or any of their players or managers who we very casually, effortlessly, or some even say cruelly, poach any time we wish, no it’s because of their fans.

There’s a large element of Southampton’s travelling fans which resemble a rugby crowd, complete with Wranglers, official merchandise, footwear that even St John’s would reject in 1991 and just a general air of thick, mundane, SUV on finance driving suburban flotsam, which is alright as that’s the general default for most of the country now – but I don’t want Southampton’s head kicked in the dust for them. No it’s the other element of their fanbase, which is made up entirely of twenty something Stone Island tattooed hideous try hard banter teds. They’re as convincing as Harry Potter playing a football hooligan, which incidentally seems to be their bible for how to attend a football game. The trouble is that it fools no one and it causes a level of cringe so intense that it makes you even want a Rafa Benitez team to enrage them for your viewing pleasure.

Make no mistake these Soccer AM adoring bad bad texans can’t wait to tell anyone about their “cheeky acca” that’s just been let down for a false amount by a shitter team in the lower leagues, nor can they return from the bogs in Wetherspoons with a shit eating grin on them and hocking to clean their throat so everyone in the vicinity is aware of baby’s first line of cocaine. Want to know who’s heading the UFC tonight? Fear not, they cant wait to tell you along with an encyclopaedic knowledge of how Brazilian Jujitsu matches up against orthodox kick boxing, and how they all paid for a brass that one time in Vegas when they went to see some goth boxer you’ve never heard of. Compelled to know more about these charismatic young fellows? Simply take a look at their right arm where you’ve got a fully documented life story (22 years and counting) expressed into their sleeve tattoo like some well marketed but terribly executed totem poll, with a little bicep creeping out after 100 curls a day with a can of Campbell’s Soup. What’s the significance of the clock face on your tattoo there, mate? Never seen that before. Well apart from that time John Stones’ bird caught him having some strange and he needed to show how sorry he was.

For a legion of copy and paste drones so devoid of self awareness I decided to play my part by inventing a roving sports journalist called Keith to entice them with the thing, other than themselves, that their like to talk about most: complete & utter football transfer bilge. The idea being that by providing a big fuck off mirror of irritably in front of them that they may recognise themselves in it, which was achieved with very limited success. Selling other team’s best players is a niche category for social media but I highly recommend it, you can imagine the response.

And then the strangest thing happened, I had one sound Southampton fan engaging with me. Then there were two. Then there were more. Full of self depreciation and good spirit, they even told me about choosing places to drink on aways where their own fans aren’t. I was suspicious but then reassured. Hey they’re alright, them! Do you reckon it’s just them though? Hold me tight doctor but do you think there’s Geordies out there that don’t want me to vomit my own pelvis clean out when they offer a football opinion? 

Now I’m not smart enough to work it out but maybe after decades of all that hype jazz and hyperbole and social media fuelled partisanship and heroes and villains, well maybe the Premier League has now reached its true form of modern WWF. A weekly edition of Wrestlemania piped to your house direct for a fee. There’ll be outlandish plot and hysteria ridden narrative throughout, pretenders will rise and fall and we all get to boo at our favourite heels. Which, in the case of Evertonians, is our own players and club. 

It’s not real, just fucking look at it. He hasn’t married a piece of wood and that twat there doesn’t sleep in a coffin. McClaren and Barton aren’t doing those accents for real! The more serious we take it the more we don’t get along, and that’s a shame. Look around your life in the past year and a half or so, with the threat of mortality around those you love and yourself, perhaps. This whole football thing was only meant to be the working class game, an enjoyable weekend entertainment. Instead they’ve got us killing each other, mate. The narrative we listen to, the hostility we seed in our own heads, the great battles where triumph or humiliation as binary outcomes isn’t really real. They’re people, some bad but mostly good, with much more than connects us than divides us. Fabian’s got the ball and is muttering something under his breath at his treatment from the crowd but it’s OK, heeeeeerrrreesss the Ultimate Warrior (cue Peter Reid running on the pitch and two footing him) yeah, fucking yeah! Yeah!

Merseyrail regret to to announce the eight fourteen service to Liverpool Central is cancelled due to track signalling problems. Booooooo. Fuck off you, they’ll fire me and it’s all your fault. Everton are delighted to announce the signing of Saint-Maximin #WelcomeASM. Yeah fucking yeah! Dopamine and cortisol, blast by blast.

That said, when the Chinese rush our shores I do hope it’s in Southampton and they fully committed to a scorched earth policy.

Onto Everton then and this is the point where I’d try and guess who might play in what position and what approach we can expect in the game to come. With it being a new Manager and some new personnel then I really don’t know. Let me try to overcome that by outlining a simple wish of what I’d like to see from Everton most weeks, both now and in the future. 

A high energy team playing front football, contesting tackles with much gusto from the first whistle and displaying some neat football which is mostly pleasing to the eye. You can forget the last bit if you do the other stuff and win the game. If there’s any chance of some nice headed goals by whoever is wearing the number 9 or evident fury from the opponent’s player, manager or fans because of some sublime Everton shithousery then I’d definitely consider this a bonus. Throw in the odd trophy or two too if you can. There you go, there’s the blueprint for anyone wanting to get goodwill and patience from me, and I might not even be alone in thinking this way. 

If Benitez can achieve this then I’ll go along with it, same as I would if it was Pol Pot shaking a celebratory fist to the Goodison crowd after navigating another three points for the good guys, or shithousing guys, both preferably. If you was to ask me how confident I am of this happening this forthcoming season (obvs not Pol Pot) then I’d rather not give you the answer as no one likes to be a killjoy on the first game of the season. I’ve seen enough of this pantomime to make me wary, and the current cast aren’t making me too excited.

However if you detect desolation or surrender in my cheap prose you’d be mistaken. When those I love share their biggest fear with me I ask what would they do the next day, or “then what?”. I don’t mean it callous it’s just that for some their biggest fear is inevitably gonna happen, the loss of a loved one, times of hardship, ruin, isolation. Hopefully you choose to keep going if it does happen and you wake up the next day and then what? It’s done. You can’t put the shit back in the donkey, friend. Embrace the release.

It’s done now, so what is there really left to fear? Allardyce? No, done that. Liverpool winning every ring there is to win including a league title within the space of a year? You got over it mate. Everton finally getting a rich owner and the liberation to buy expensive players to restore their rightful place at the head of the top table? Well, the less about that the better.

Yet you’re still here, aren’t you? Aye it is a rollercoaster but only you choose to scream or not, or put your hands in the air with best pretend happy face for overpriced photo on the mantelpiece.

I choose distraction. Right fucking into these blues.

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