So that period of reflection, of consolidation, of warmth, of beautiful nothingness called “no Everton to ruin your weekends” is over and we must now pay our dues for the next nine months.
Sure, there is a gap of six weeks for the latest FIFA money influenced innovation but there’s a strong possibility that within that period you will be sweating on 1) how we get out of the bottom three when Everton return, 2) wincing every time an Everton player goes down with a grimace in the blazing heat of Qatar and 3) getting incredibly irate at the commercialism of the forthcoming Christmas and work party’s ill behaviour by colleagues you barely tolerate at best. Never mind burning the old coffee table from the shed in order to generate affordable heat, and then the shed itself.
A fresh clean page does, however, offer opportunity, after consolidation to perhaps think more deeply than needed on how you’d like your relationship with this godforsaken football team to develop to bring mutually pleasing benefits. Case in point is what I like to call “Everton that subculture”, something of which – dear and valued reader – I personally are more guilty of than most. Whether you believe in manifestation or just enjoy a positive vibe around you is entirely your choice but something remarkable, for Evertonians anyway, happened at the end of last season. This is the bit where I’m meant to articulate the remarkable support and glorify it to make you feel better about yourself but I believe in economy of effort and so you know what happened, the impact it had on the players and clubs and perhaps how it made you feel being part of it. The vast majority of us yearn to be part of a tribe and this was a positive tribal experience, including blue face dying to strike fear into our foes and honour our celtic roots. Giving the players beliefs and a competitive edge in high pressure situations against much demonised foes could really catch on, and perhaps “Everton, that” as a concept could change from its roots in coping fatalism to something a little more happier for us all. Aye, right.
I’m writing this whilst checking Twitter to see if we manage to get any players over the line before the midday deadline for first fixture eligibility to in some way influence how much confidence I will put into this preview. So far there’s only the aroma of Gueye and some Belgian midfielder who will probably end up at West Ham. Therefore the additions from last season are Tarkowski and McNeil from a club we helped relegate and an ex Wolves reserve for full back. In the loss column, well from players we will notice any absence anyway, are our beautiful Richarlison and perennial cameo lizard Delph. Whether that leaves us with a net gain or less remains to be seen but a few more in would at least settle the collective nerves of us all. Heavy focus needs given to one of the most inept and toothless Everton midfields I’ve had the misfortune to witness – and believe me the competition is in this category – so it is assuringly apparent Lampard is acutely aware of this due to the conveyor belt of midfielders we are are linked with.
Whilst we’d all like earlier business it would seem the complexity of selling/loaning clubs being in a position to release their players, and our own FFP induced house of mirrors, inhibits this being remedied. It’s not an ideal situation, even perhaps bordering on perilous considering there are five league fixtures completed by the time the transfer window closes. The Manager, the DOF, the senior leadership, the owner must be confident in this gamble however. Anyway we’ve been told to “judge us at the end of the transfer window” so cool, if there’s something we excel at as Evertonians, it’s judging.
Which leads us on Saturday’s visitors Chelsea. The scant attention I pay to other clubs tells me they’ve not had the happiest of windows chasing targets thus far, although that is offset somewhat by an array of talent in the squad they will bring to Goodison regardless. This is a test and one which Everton overcame a few months ago when five points adrift from safety, through a goal from someone who now plays for Spurs. It shall be helped somewhat by it being a 1730 kick off permitting a warm afternoon of anticipation, exuberance and alcohol from many in the ground, and even a coach greeting which should ensure Goodison is really in the mood for blood. Then the rest is up to Chelsea’s greatest ever player & OK manager, and his group of players to respond and really start the season as it really needs to be started.
This is usually the point in the preview where I’d mischievously comment on some of the behaviours and personal hygiene of our esteemed opponents, maybe as an eschewal of the array of copy and paste heavily cliched previews there are on offer in this digital age, or maybe as an expression of the continual carousel of meffs and try hards we have to endure in the modern Premier League. There’s going to be little love lost between Everton and any team that places a heavy value in licking the boot of the crown and ruling class but – in the spirit of goodwill that a new start brings – I’d like to wish them well and focus instead on Everton and what we can do to somehow control our own fate and best enjoy our connected experience.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to apologise for previously mischaracterising Ben Chilwell as jodhpur wearing fox bothering oppressor of his stately home grounds staff, as it turns out he is a compassionate human that does nice things for those who are vulnerable. Also to Ross Barkley I am sorry I called you a Easter Island craniumed rat, as life sometimes leads us to separation and who truly knows the intricacies of why this occurred. To Mason Mount, my assertion that you drive and XR3i round Essex wearing Gucci chinos and bullying meek teenagers was and exploiting inebriated young girls was, in retrospect, a touch unfair. To Mateo Kovacic my suggesting you being only two tequilas away from staring out cats and getting a UFC tattoo was callous on my behalf, and I’m sorry. To Chelsea fans; my internal dialogue pointing the finger at you breeding a national front influenced culture that permits not so covert racism and misplaced English exceptionalism when on foreign shores should have considered that Chelsea is a wide church of support and there exists many fine humans following the famous west London blues and that other countries/continents’ people becoming fanatics over my misplaced, unproven barbs of common fan culture is an expression of how the Premier League has twisted our beloved game into a gigantic exploitive commercial void that sucks any decency, ethics and goodwill out of it’s followers in a vain grab for reflected glory, well, that was perhaps my personal cynicism getting carried away. For this, I wish to apologise and wish you a fantastic season, right after Everton have infuriated you on the pitch through their performance, abundant verve, intimidating connectivity with the stands, and injured every single one of your fucking players or coaching staff that dare stand in our way. All the best, lads.
Onto Everton and how they may set up to face Chelsea and which players will be deployed in achieving a highly desirable three points. Well, if you’ve came here for any of that valuable insight and indeed made it so far down this preview then I welcome disappointing you further.
DCL being out is a bit Everton, that, (apologies) and will result in likely Dele playing as a false 9 which makes me wretch writing that term but to communicate effectively with you I’m willing to assimilate to your language and ways. Or Rondon pondering about somewhere up there to various levels of disappointment. What do you mean he’s suspended? It’s not a good thing that our most effective striker is out but maybe – in the spirit of Everton, that, antithesis – it is timely to tip Everton over the edge into acquiring a competent forward capable of not only deputising for DCL, but pushing him and hopefully exceeding his worth to the team. Let’s call it healthy, timely succession planning. General consensus is that Lampard is waiting out on Broja before the window closes, prepared to to give up five games before acquiring him. It makes me wonder if that plan may be expedited. Around whichever striker is preferred, I doubt Lampard is signing wide players without planning to deploy them so choose your preferred two out of Gray, Gordon, McNeil and Iwobi, then take to the internet to complain at 1630 hours when the hugely decorated Frank Lampard doesn’t choose your particular combination.
Assuming the above it leaves two spaces in the midfield for Doucoure and someone. Anyone. The full backs look pretty easy to guess so that leaves Tarkowski, a fit Mina and someone in a back five safety net employed to stop Everton shitting frustratingly easy goals. I’m pleased Jordan Pickford stays at Everton as he was one of only a few really sellable assets this summer, he will play in goal and hope to replicate a truly wonderful performance against Chelsea from only a few months ago or – in the most ideal yet unlikely world – have little to do on the afternoon.
As an Everton fan of any experience you’ve likely travelled through a multiverse of new Evertons, only to find that in every single realm of possibility that Everton are shit. Going into a season, however, with a blank canvas does indeed offer opportunity abound for those who really, really want it. When the bar is as low as “avoid relegation somehow” then progress is hugely attainable by getting the desired basics of front foot football, throwing a tackle in and exerting every last bit of energy when on the pitch on a weekly basis. Perhaps even a team, a style, that resonates with the fans in the stands and invokes a solid union that becomes more than the sum of their parts. Then – and hold the crazy thoughts for a moment and just go with me – a real sense of optimism for the future and belief in attaining some achievements that Everton once commonly expected.
This is my dream.
It’s probably time now you get off the toilet now as your legs are soon to become numb, but thanks for reading and let’s get to it.