And thus, what feels like some cruel, weird sleepwalk into the abyss continues, in a season for Everton (football club) that feels as confusing and painful as your first ever haemorrhoid.
We’re mid way through February and – as it stands – Everton are to be relegated. That’s where it is really. That can change over the next 3 months with confidence of avoiding it will vary from game to game, fan to fan even. This confidence will oscillate between extremes like, for example, the visceral anger at the end of the transfer window, quickly to post Arsenal euphoria/release (delete as applicable) and then almost fluidly onto the frustration of yet another customary rolling over at Anfield. Such noise and energy is picked up daily by an eager media and social media and then amplified into such a din that it almost implores one to wrap one’s head in tinfoil and place inside the microwave to just see how better it can feel.
Those of us practising indifference and dissonance wear an uneasy mask as let’s face it, whether angry or distanced, we really do love the perpetually disappointing weekend ruining meme generating modern Greek Tragedy hoodoo making most cursed sons of Liverpool 4. If there’s any way of them somehow avoiding a catastrophic truly hideously timed relegation then I’d sure love to see them spawn it. Even if we have to go through all of this relegation angst again for a third season in a row, the utterly fucking inept slimeballs I’ll likely to glued to it. Should Everton avoid relegation then whichever people prevented it have achieved one of the most notable services in our history because Everton from top to bottom really are shit, very fucking shit.
It is my belief that the most precious commodity in football is “hope” and whilst there’s a thin line between just that and “delusion”, there are some threads to grasp onto in the hope one of them drags us out the mud. Our new manager, the big plain speaking pragmatic rasping voiced crudely goateed scotch egg in a suit, should hopefully elicit some responses like we experienced against Arsenal. Goodison can and will be a cauldron of energy to tap into for Everton and against whichever filthy twats want to take points off us. There is a sufficient talent (perhaps not character nor goals) in the squad to rustle up something that can suck up points here and there we hope. And if we aint got hope then what the fuck you even doing reading this or watching the game, you most peculiar masochist.
In order to get revival rolling amongst this tatty patchwork of players signed by ten different managers – with nearly all of them ripping off Everton in the process – we will have to hope a few of them can form some sort of cohesive resistance in a system that is marginally more cohesive and/or a slightly better system than the other 6 or 7 no marks circling the plug hole as Everton are. This Saturday, at Goodison, kicking off at 3pm, we face another of those unfortunates in that same watery vortex.
Leeds United are every inch as fucked up as Everton are. It’s also their second successive season of plughole circling as they travel to Goodison with interim manager due to recently firing their Yankee Lampard. They sit one point ahead of Everton in a game where three points go to it’s victor, should there be a victor. I watched both of their games under Freddie Futsal and they looked really decent, pressing high and hungry for the ball but with as much threat in the final third as, well, Everton. Their vigour could be a response to the changing of manager and as we know that bounce is fragile, or it could be a corner turn and they’ll stroll up to Goodison, outwork a lame Everton and plunge our face hard pressed against said plug hole. Fuck knows, that could just be me projecting my anxiety but everyone else seems to be doing that anyway as though if we don’t say the very worst scenario for Everton then it guarantees it, or even crueller. I feel we may need therapy.
You may be hoping for some customary unfair words about Leeds in this preview, alas, I’m quite fond of the place and people. I try reserve my most acidic jibes for the cut and paste stereotypical nondescript overcompensating various civic hellholes of modern England, but Leeds is just quite comfortable being authentically Leeds really. And excuse me but I find that refreshing.
Sure there may be lashings of barely concealed insecurity hidden behind try-hard masochism and lads lads lads oi oi look how mental we are when we’re together as a pack of fully grown adults following a sports team. Just a touch too much Stone Island. Maybe a little misplaced parochial pride that encourages some males to behave like incredibly basic titheads then feign indifference to it either for kudos from the pack, or them being genuinely that thick and detached from civilised society that the confusing, haunting screams from their soul knows only how to express itself by assaulting weaker others, drinking their mate’s piss, menacing small store owners, mating with vulnerable humans, over compensating in their revulsion of paedophiles, inking themselves with gawdy England tattoos, growing into forty something tragedies that think acting hard is not an acute display of a hugely failed adult journey, snorting barely a 20% pure cocaine that will ultimately lead them to a dark deep depression, being the one with the edgiest, vilest, bigoted memes/videos in the various WhatsApp group which brings them the only human warmth they feel, attempt to unconvincingly mask their poor hygiene standards with excessive Lynx Africa and generally live an inauthentic life out of sync from their innate feelings and yearnings just for validation from other similarly lost, self loathing humans so that they may feel less vulnerable by belonging to some form of tribe that is roundly mocked and laughed at by you and I. But if you’ve been to Leeds or know people from Leeds then there’s generally a lack of pretence about them and a sincere amicability that I’m hugely fond of so we can discount a few of the small points above should we wish to. I’d like to see them stay up if I wasn’t truly indifferent to anyone staying up other than Everton, and I feel such warmth really means something.
There’ll be previews from much more enlightened souls than I on tactics and what may prove decisive or not, but I’m not capable of that so my preference is for Everton to shoot out of the traps – roared on by the same fervour and anger as the crowd against Arsenal – to assault Leeds both in a footballing and physical manner to obtain a much needed three points. If during that 90 minute journey we manage to cause acute emotional pain to their players, staff and fans then all the better really. I wish for a festival of shithousing and snide, a most foul pantomime that results in Everton winning and everyone else being really upset about it. So I can drink fermented liquids and feel happy that evening. Nothing more really.
In a battle of marginal gains, to achieve this we may need more of that bear pit thing. The rawness of Everton fans is something special and always has been for me. It’s a tribal, aggressive, real, homogeneous entity that eschews superficiality, cliches and is hostile to everything and everyone, including itself. Everton Twitter being the world’s biggest and best example of Tall Poppy Syndrome where displaying a microcosm of ego or sloppily phrasing a sentence can condemn any man, woman or blue tick to a lifetime of online condemnation. High stakes poker, welcome to the table, minimum stake is your entire reputation, forever. I don’t consider this too much a negative really because it protects us against being a hideous cultish echo chamber, and within it lies a real air of humility and realism, one which mobilises and vanguards at the right time to push disappointing bastards wearing their club’s shirt into being petrified of failing to give effort or fight when it counts. It’s tiring having to do it for another season but what you do and how you do it does make a difference. I just wanted to pay you a back pat really because you make me feel that proud tribal thing sometimes, now fuck off.
Onto St Domingo’s disappointments, and fuck knows how Dyche will fix the big blunt up front problem but that’s why he’s paid the big bucks and you and I can’t wait for payday. Sure, they had from the end of August to identity and sign just even one competent goal scorer and failed, but what the fuck can either Dyche or you do about it now? Lamenting it just ain’t gonna make it better. Getting the incompetent fucks out who caused it is being nicely organised against (✊) but that sadly won’t yield the solutions we need on the pitch to avoid Everton getting relegated here and now. Let’s see either how creative Dyche can be or if DCL’s body somehow finds more reliability than an Escort Mark II purchased for £175 in our youth.
We’ve all got various opinions on how the midfield and defence should be set up, and time will tell which one of them are correct or not. This ain’t the preview capable of adding any insight nor prediction about them. Pickford reportedly had the positioning of a stray Chinese balloon for one of the goals at The Shining Hole Punch On The Hill which has yielded some questioning of him as suitable keeper for Everton, but that’s just fucking daft. He’s one of the sure things that stand between Everton and relegation, but I do enjoy deeply entrenched dar-stances because they fucked up berating a player years ago and can’t escape from the clutches of their clearly vulnerable ego which is absolutely terrified to ever being wrong on any footballing judgement, ever.
This fixture prompts (rearranged Arsenal fixture aside) a kinder run of games that Everton are probably already +1 on aspired for points since Dyche took over. In about five games time from now we will all have a much better idea of if Everton shall survive this season or not. Shouldn’t look too far ahead though, and instead just fucking hurt whoever is front of us on a game by game basis.
Haemorrhoids do eventually get better. So no excuses really Everton.