So here we are again, trying with limited success to fight off the almost alien notion of hope going into weekends and Everton. In many ways it mirrors the cruel game my Grandfather used to play with me (careful now) on the beach where he would let a terrified young me drift out in a dingy with a rope attached to it and then, when I was convinced I’d never see land again, pull me back in with the rope. That I can recall it in such vivid detail probably means I still suffer PTSD from it but there we go, Everton have bestowed me, us, with far worse PTSD from their expertise in weekend mind fuck.
And anyway, football without hope is what? Habit? Folly? Self flagellation?
So it’s with full understanding that this weekend’s opponents will no doubt over an insipid Everton that I write this preview, but there remains a chance, a small glimmer of hope, that Franco Lampini will do something that will make us believe that **this** time really is different. When of course it won’t be, but hope be a persuasive potion.
The Leeds game was a much needed shot in the arm for all who sail with the occasionally good ship Everton. Everyone had a sense of it being as close to a six pointer as can be, hot on the heels of losing the previously sizeable six pointer just four days before. While I’m sure performances matter less than results right now it is a very reassuring thing to combine both. In short, Everton out Bielsa’d Leeds and Goodison was alive. Fuck was it alive.
This sort of makes you think why it can’t be like that more often but we’ve discussed the nuances of Goodison many times before, and my best guess is that so many of us attend for some form of biweekly therapy where we can let them troubling thoughts and anxieties out of our head, and blast them onto the players on the pitch. It’s authentically us really, but so is Evertonians turning up to squeeze every last bit of their team when know the chips are down. You seen the players respond, yet they initiated it early on by simply running round dead mad and flying into a few spicy tackles. Whilst this may not solve the perennial chicken v egg argument of who gets who going first at Goodison, it was ace wasn’t it. And who doesn’t want more ace times? Be that change you wish to see in the world, and if you can’t do that, then at least be it for L4.
Which doesn’t lead us at all into this weekend’s trip to the wind battered south coast to face something of a rejuvenated Southampton (abbreviated to Soton from this point on, never Saints because that makes you sound like a shit NFL team you thick scruffy try hard fucks) as their wouldn’t-share-a-tent-with-him-even-in-a-blizzard pervert of the slopes of a Manager once again finds a way to save both his club and his job. He deserves credit for that as it’s a very valuable attribute to have and particular at a club like Soton. It’s just that I’m pretty sure he’s a dogger but them type of things seem quite prevalent down there, in Wimpeyville.
It’s a short preview this week which inhibits me from going into great detail about the cultural and hygiene failings of your average Soton fan. It is primarily due to their away following, whom I’ve described before as Inbetweeners on the first line of beak, but thankfully their presence is diluted somewhat at home by lashings and lashings of older Twickenham style fans who get out twice a month for a beer with “the lads” while their missus is getting railed by the handyman back home. Mistakenly I did typecast all Soton fans unfairly until, thanks to the friend making qualities of bird app, I found a nest of really sound Soton fans who I’m incredibly fond of, but even fonder of them wanting me to eviscerate their own fans as they resent having to tolerate them every week.
It does prompt the wonder of why on this rainy, expensive, full of lickspittle corgi fondling lizards island there is so much difference between different places and it’s peoples. Case in point being that your average Soton fan under the age of 27 would last at best, thirty minutes drinking in either Concert Square or Matthew Street before getting a (much deserved) webbing for their needy, try way too hard, lads in Kavos behaviour. It seems very much an English disease to be unable to enjoy company and a good time without being able to control irritating someone else in large futile acts of bravado, occasionally leading to aggression. That’s really shit you should have grown out of when the first whiskers hit your top lip but this expression of acutely insecure self esteem is prevalent amongst the wet through weapons of Soton’s twenty somethings.
Now while they hope it looks convincing, to the trained scouse eye someone projecting alpha behaviour while head to toe in a mixture of Henley’s and Superdry just ain’t gonna cut it. Neither is attempting to crudely out shout and insult your intended foe, less so putting your arms out wide as thought you’re waiting for Pontius Pilate to inadvertently invent chocolate eggs. A sleeve tattoo depicting your life story might seem impressive to your fellow depressingly vapid ferret friends, and maybe to sexual partners of worrying low self esteem that are training to be a nail technician, but it just makes me wonder what sort of life story have you had when you’re 22 and never left your dull little south coasting dwelling, less so when you’re still living with mum and calling everyone lad. And can you explain to me what that big fucking clock with an Apache’s face means on your right forearm? You’re a copy and past turd, mate. From a nondescript backwater and we’ll effortlessly take your cruise ship trade on you – on a whim – any time we want leaving you with absolutely no fucking reason for anyone to ever hear of your home town. So at least know yourself. And your place is keeping your head down at the football and then going home after to a bowl of Cheerios for supper and Match Of The Day.
If any of the Twickenham fans are reading this I urge you to start your revolution soon. There’s good people in your fanbase but they’re being pushed out by an insurgency of Joop, Bodrum Stone Island, shots of Sambuca and cry wanking over UFC. I stand with you against them.
I don’t give a fuck about who plays for them but it can’t go amiss without saying in perhaps the way a dog looks like its owner then it’s absolutely no coincidence that the idol of these aforementioned bellwipes is their captain, one James Ward-Prowse. A complete nothing burger of a human, a Tory landlord who revels in kicking his tragic tenants out onto the street. In the very unlikely chance of any Everton player reading this then I urge you to steam through this fox haunting bad bad texan at the first opportunity to bring hope to the world in these troubling times that karma does indeed exist, and a beautiful future is possible for all.
Onto Everton and it would seem Frank Lampard is the type to likes to reward good performance and result with unchanged sides for the following game. While this backfired at Newcastle he will learn as much from that as when Soton roll in their third goal in this fixture. That means more of Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin up top, who with every game we hope soon returns to the goal scoring menace he was before injury. That not one but two strikers are the jewel in Everton’s crown at the same time needs exploiting in performance, plunder and points.
That should also mean width for the Toffees will be provided by the sublime Ant Gordo, and Alex Iwobi. Everyone can see the leaps and bounds progress from Gordon so no need to go over that but it raised some eyebrows when Iwobi started the last game, and took the eyebrows clean above the scalp when he put in a performance of guile, industry and threat. We can group Jonjoe Kenny in with this so I can make a point about obviously being pleased, but not wanting to fall victim to what I like to call “Gomesitis” and anticipating them doing it two games in a row. It’s nice to be proved wrong though. Allan and van de Beek will no doubt be in the middle and the latter seems to have a touch about him doesn’t he? But then so did Andre Gomes when he first came. Bring us successive performances please, Everton.
The rest of the defence will probably read Coleman, Keane and Holgate. The keeper will be Pickford. If Lampard can get the confidence and form of any of the above up to a point where they produce sustained 7/10s every week then I’ll be getting Lampard’s cheeky little smile inked on my left bicep, just below the gigantic clock face with a spitfire flying past.
Everton will need points on the road to supplement any home success to stay in this league, and despite our opponent’s decent form it’s one of those games you’d like something out of it. Achieve that and you’d have to say the start from the latest saviour of St Domingos has been a promising one.
Enough to give you a little hope perhaps. The rope ain’t snapped yet, even if my Grandad is long gone.