Midfield in the Garden of Good and Evil

I don’t think Tom Davies is good enough for Everton Football Club.

It surprises me when I’m reminded that he has played over 100 times for us. He’ll soon have played over twice as many times for Everton than his uncle, Alan Whittle did.

In truth, our Tom’s barnstorming goal against Man City probably did him no favours. Raised expectations and all that.

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As well as thinking that Tom Davies is crap when he plays for Everton, I also think that he’s a nice bloke. Clearly, I don’t know him, and I’m only going off scraps of evidence. I’m always a bit haunted by my little daughter’s question, “Dad, why do you like these people?… They don’t know you and you don’t know them. They can’t hear you shouting.” But he does seem nice, doesn’t he?

SO, Tom Davies, crap but a bad bloke? Surely not, the man does volunteer work with local charities…

The answer to the question, “Why was Tim Howard crap for us in his final season?” isn’t Tim Howard is a great guy, he’s overcome Tourette’s and is a fine leader… Our all-American secretary of defense was allowed to be a goalie past his sell by date, and still a good bloke.

We can’t seem to accept that you can be nice, and not very good. The language that we lob at these players, is the language of someone who isn’t nice.

Take JPG, the man of a million injuries and a handful of appearances. He’s been called useless, a waster. Stealing a living. All seems a bit unfair, for someone who’s had to deal with a nasty string of debilitating injuries…

We like to eat our own at Goodison. Other midfielders, Iwobi, Barkley, Nyarko, Williamson have all been attacked for either not being good enough or being stupid enough to go and get injured. And in our midfield garden of good and evil, players seem fall into one bucket or the other.

I know, I know. What’s the problem? These brats are paid millions to be terrible, and a few words shouldn’t matter.

The problem comes when you flip it, when players do horrible things but are forgiven because they’re “good” at football.

In our minds, virtue and talent are holding hands and skipping off into the sunset together, and it sort of makes sense. Sort of.

How can the man who brings me to my feet, limbs, roaring with joy, be a bad person?

Football makes us swipe things under the carpet. It makes us say that if he’s steaming drunk, barefoot, driving his car into a petrol station, like a real life Grand Theft Auto, just missing humans by a pixel or two, it’s bad. But all will be forgiven if you have the ballon d’or sitting shotgun next to you.

Football makes us choose. And often we choose the sport over real life. Shelving our concerns, only to bring them back up at a later date if the player loses form.

Heresy, I know, but was Alan Ball a nice bloke? In 1968 my dad saw him deliberately kick a Tranmere player in the small of the back as he was lying on the ground. Ref didn’t see it. We turned them over 4-0. Bally will forever be my dad’s utter hero…

Take Son. Almost universally hated by Evertonians for what he did to Andre Gomes. And almost universally loved by Spurs fans for what he does for their league position..

That’s why Rafa short circuits us. Do we like him, can we like him?

Football makes us sell out.

It makes us accept value over values.

Do we reduce everything down to whether players make us happy or not, and then translate that feeling into telling us if they’re virtuous people?

Ronaldo has some pretty serious and credible rape allegations against him.

But for Brendan Rodgers:

“Cristiano Ronaldo is a great role model for all players, young and old. How to take care of yourself. How to dedicate your life to your career. Have that hunger and ambition that drive that will to win and succeed.“

Role model?

What about Mohammed Bin Salman, the man who provides the lashings and lashings of oil money behind Newcastle United. He’s great for Newcastle United, right? Geordies were dancing in the streets. But many think he’s behind the orders to murder and saw up Jamal Khassoghi. He bombed innocent civilians in Yemen. He once sent a bullet to someone who wouldn’t sell their house. It’s rumored his jailed his own mum for a bit.

Football has tested us, all the way. It’s told us to forget about what happens off-field. And we’ve complied. After all, we watch football to escape. We don’t want to think about rape allegations, or bone saws.

To the pundits who say they don’t want to get into this… What a luxury, to be able to turn your nose up at evil, to make snap character judgments solely on an ability to play football or fund it.

To the fans of Newcastle United who claim they are being unfairly picked on… Would you say you’re more or less unfairly picked on than the men, women, and children bombed and killed in Yemen?

What price, our tribal loyalty? How much would it take to give up on Everton? Collectively, we’re frogs, placed in water and slowly brought to the boil. We’d have leapt out straight away if put in scalding water. But as the temperature has been slowly raised, we’ve noticed less and less…

All the complaints about Ronaldo and MBS? Just a squall, it’ll pass.

And to make matters worse, we’re all tainted. Just look at Everton’s ownership. Pot, meet kettle.

Where do we draw the line?

Sponsors… How about if we slap one on the front of your shirt? How about on the sleeve? How about if the company is questionable?

Players… How about if he drink drives? Beats up his wife? Shags someone else’s wife?

Managers… How about if he’s only here for the money? How about if he calls us “small” AND managed Liverpool?

Owners… How about if he’s one of the most feared and brutal leaders in the world?

Boiled frogs, the lot of us. But I guess it doesn’t matter, as long as they keep winning…

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Wing-back or Welder, your private life should be separated from your public life/job.

The Welder...or Wing-back...doesn't do his job there are consequences, administered by, for want of a better word - The Boss.
He Drink drives, there are consequences, administered by the legal system.

Having been both, in some phases of my life and tbh I was better Welder than Wing-back, anybody who sees me as a role model, needs to look to themselves rather than to me as a good example.

Welder, Wing-back, it's just a job ffs, you get paid, the amount you get paid doesn't make you a better person.
In Tom's case the comparatively large amount just allows you to buy more daft clothes.

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The club will be , and has been, around for a long time. Players, managers and owners will come and go. We can pass judgement on the individuals as people and hold them in a different view in what they do for our club. It s a different lens to view them and should not be confused with reality.

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Really like this article. Raises some good questions

I'm not sure you can make the generalisation that private life and public life/job should be separate. It very much depends on what your transgression is and what your job is. Somebody who admits to looking at child porn but has never done anything - would you want that person to keep their job as a primary school teacher? would you allow the person who robbed their granny's life savings work as an accountant? If everything was separate Wayne Couzens could still be a police officer.

Of course there is rumour and there is speculation but in some cases there is cold hard fact. and yes, people do make mistakes, nobody is perfect and if somebody is genuinely sorry then they should be forgiven - the recovered alcoholics, the reformed gamblers. Having said that serial transgressors who have no moral compass or social awareness should never be allowed to be in a position where they can influence others whether it is because they are footballers or any other celebrity.

For example I have zero sympathy for Paul Gascoigne, spent all his money, beat up his wife, paid unwanted sexual attention to a woman on a train by trying to kiss her because she was fat and looked looked like she needed cheering up. He's vile. If Everton had been taken over by the current owners of NUFC I would never interact with them again. I'm massively struggling already with the fact that the Premier League has allowed that takeover. It makes a complete mockery of all the inclusivity they are trying to promote. Money talks. Lots of money always gets what it wants.

On the other hand you have Dolly Parton - who, amongst other things, donated $1m to COVID vaccine research and promotes child literacy in which each month, enrolled children from birth to age five, receive a high quality, age appropriate book in the post, free of charge.

Tom Davies is a nice lad - he may not be good enough for Everton. He doesn't deserve the abuse he gets. He is one of those people who I would be shocked and saddned if he was caught doing something he shouldn't.

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