It’s been said that Evertonians live life on a knife edge, a mere mosquito hair away from both disaster and glory. Ninety nine percent of the time it’s disaster really, and no one really said that saying, I just made it up to give a starting point for this quick preview if we’re really being forthright with each other dear reader.
The enthusiasm and sense of optimism prior to the Man Utd game didn’t sit well with me nor many Evertonian veterans who know instinctively that such feelings are usually the fore bearer of great disappointment.
Thus it proved. We’ve all been conditioned into a borderline toxic relationship with our tawdry weekend affair through seasons of mind-fucking role play. We’re kinky though, and Everton are wonderfully mucky when you play them right so in this sea, ocean, of nondescript company and desire; there’s at least some motivation to persist, for what has been before and what could be again with the all too quiet girl. Yet I do like the quiet girls, they have more secrets. And some of them secrets are me.
There were no secrets at a hideous timed kick off on Sunday as a superior Man Utd man to man bettered a languid Everton. You’ve likely chewed the bones out of it after and since, so no need for me to go any deeper. Only to say it was a curt reminder of where Everton are at and how much work there is to be done. Turn, and face.
Facing Everton this weekend are the mighty lily whites of North London who are enjoying a lovely start to the season under Antonio Conte, with all the demeanour of a man proudly serving you his famed house latte in his sixth generational business, but pushing the – quite frankly – stale looking cake with a bit too much intensity for your liking. To the point where you’re thinking of two starring it on TripAdvisor later on out of nothing more than shithouse spite, under the heading “Cockroaches”. Away from his relatively successful coffee shop he’s making a good push of the football management sideline with Spurs sat in third place after nine games, and going decent in the Champions League.
As people acutely aware of glass ceilings, we’ve an appreciation for both the challenges in ‘levelling up’ and then attempting to sustain it. Sadly those notions are increasingly harder in a league dominated by greed and protectionism, it would however be nice to see Spurs muscle in there if only for a change and as some form of forlorn hope in that building an expensive new stadium can achieve said levelling up. Although by this point who cares much about others’ fortunes when the real eyes on the prize is the bankruptcy of the entire corporate grab league with a hard reset to a fairer playing ground for both clubs and fans.
Sadly I’ve not many acidic words for Spurs fans as the ones I know and have met all tend to be alright and with fewer of the lamentable behaviours that I detest other fans for. So they get a pass until that clearly marked line in the sand marked “just go the game and shut up lads” is breached. In many ways, well done Spurs fans. If that sense of parochial support with deep connection to Tottenham’s history and culture is diluted on the back of any success is a different thing.
With football being owned now by the Premier League and used as a nefarious commodity to steal a game we all once owned, by repackaging it, commercialising it and then drip feeding it back to us at a ludicrous rate, it has been causing both desolation on my behalf and a curiosity in who does wantonly suckle on the teat of this NFL inspired shit-nipple. Interactions on social media, ill advised YouTube channels and a cursory glance of the crowd of any relatively successful Premier League club reveals various states of awkward fitting consumers. I mused too hard on this during the Man Utd game after such a camera pan. Now I don’t want to be **that** guy who sneers at others trying to fill a sense of tribal yearning or – in this case – dialling into cheap reflected glory, but fucking hell if that’s the price of success then long may Everton do Everton stuff. And while it’s cute that others with no connection to the area or history of your club it just makes me wonder if they’re in love with that club, or it’s very carefully marketed brand.
The above isn’t applicable to both Tottenham and Everton fans as fuck me if you choose to support either of them clubs over a period of time then masochism be all yours. A wider point I’ve been thinking of – again way too deeply – recently is how many wrong life choices do you have to make to end up middle aged and soliciting your entire identity and self worth from a football team? That’s for another preview though, says the middle aged dude voluntarily writing a few thousand words about his godforsaken football club.
I was meant to be previewing Spurs so aye, let’s have a look at some of their players. The stand out is Harry Kane with a jaw that doesn’t seem to fully under his control, it’s like the rolling waves every time he tries communicate. That apart he seems a decent human and one who has stuck by his boyhood club (except a little holiday affair) which is really refreshing to see. Did those goals feel **really** as good as they did with Everton, Wayne, you little freckled Crocky hyena I was made up when we packed you off to the MLS. Both Kane and South Korean star Son (cue booing at the back) have lit up games and the league at times for Spurs in the past few seasons, and Conte has been backed to add to those talented in the hope of that aforementioned levelling up thing.
One of whom was a Brazilian formerly of these shores. Richarlison gave us four seasons of engagement and a real sense he got what Everton stands for, plus heaps of effort and quality. Alas Spurs paid a fair price and he now plays for them not us. That’s about that really. Everton’s model needs to be buying potential, developing it and selling for a profit until they’ve ever got the Champions League football that keeps top players at clubs. The purchases of Conte since he took over at Spurs have been quite decent so – coupled with the evident tactical improvements – they’re not gonna be an easy team to get something from on home soil.
Yet Everton need to achieve exactly that, lest they succumb to what looks increasingly like a three game row of defeats, with all the instability, doubt and outright hysteria that will invoke. Indeed it was a drubbing in this fixture last season that prompted a change in Lampard’s approach, from idealism to pragmatism, that ended up securing Everton’s immediate future in the top flight. This season has seen a move towards presumably what type of football Frank Lampard likes his teams to play, but is it good enough to hold fort with the better teams in the division, or may a temporary return to the five-at-the-back comfort blanket ensue? We will find out at approximately 1630 on Saturday, or a few minutes earlier for any jarg line up hoodlum spinning their creations.
Honeymoon’s over Maupay. Well not really as there wasn’t a honeymoon and the likeable trite Frenchman has been doing as good as he can being fired all manner of unsuitable balls to his shoulders while overbearing opposition grocks suffocate him out. Maupay’s game isn’t leading the line in a traditional sense and its in fixtures like these that the scraps he will be likely fed on will not be sufficient to convert into a result any of us will fancy. All of which makes DCL’s return to the squad quite interesting. Will Lampard opt for the superior physicality and athleticism of DCL in the preferred 4-3-3 formation, or might he switch it up and return to a big man little man approach to forward play, reminiscent of the Saint & Greavsie era? Again, see you at 1630 on Saturday. Sixty million man A. Gordon will be suspended for this but that won’t feel like much of a loss on current form, twenty million man D. McNeill may get a go, should wingers be deployed.
Honeymoon’s over Gueye, Iwobi and Onana. Well not really as it just didn’t click against Man Utd, and to be fair that’s alright. They’re humans not machines after all. Where the interest may lie here is if Lampard persists or succumbs to the temptation of Garner, Doucoure, Davies or formation change – any of which would be harsh based on just one iffy game. Cut throat business this though, I tell you.
You can guess the back four and the keeper, although Holgate’s fit and I really miss Natsy Patsy swashbuckling down our right hand side.
A great way to live one’s life is never getting too high (hey) nor getting too low, and should I role play being a doctor right now it would be exactly this notion-potion that I would prescribe to my fellow, beloved Evertonians.
Progress is indeed not linear, yet, in a league of fine margins and unrefined hysteria the greatest gift a fanbase can bestow upon its manager and players may be patience and support. Admittedly I’m too wishing we could fast forward to the part where we bounce into these fixtures expectant. In the meantime though, mind you don’t cut your feet on that knife edge.