Leicester City 2 Everton 2

We came, we saw, we let in soft equalisers.

Everton are back, bitches.

Before the kick-off at the rubbish-named King Power Stadium – it will always be Filbert Street, a ground that holds many mixed memories, from The Duncan Ferguson strangle, the Anders Limpar screamer, Muzzy Izzet throat-slashing gestures and, for a select few, an absolute arse-ragging in the Zenith Data Systems Cup when one beacon-cheeked drunken teenager in the Everton section might have screamed for handball during a ‘crowd scene’ only for both sets of supporters to hysterically reply in unison: ‘It was the goaly’ – there was the news that veritably rocked Evertonians, that Ross Barkley is set to miss a fair chunk of the season with a knee injury.

Now, Barkley’s far from the finished article, but he is developing all the time and he offers something completely different from the other midfielders at the club: Roberto Martinez has seen his options reduced considerably with this ill-timed turn up.

The show must go on though, and Barkley’s injury means an opportunity for Steven Naismith, a player who showed his worth during the second half of last season. The Scot picked up where he left off too, scoring a goal on the cusp of half-time that looked for a good while as if it was going to be the winner. It was created by some old-school left wing magic between Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar – they are like Morecambe and Wise in that you’ve seen their interplay a million times but it still never fails to raise a smile – and when the little South African eventually poked the ball into Naismith’s path near the penalty spot he instinctively cracked a shot home off the underside of the crossbar.

A very Everton goal.

Unfortunately Leicester’s goals had a touch of ‘typical Everton about them too. Their first on 22 minutes came when Sylvain Distin, off-balance and using his wrong foot, ‘Yoboed’ a clearance straight at home debutant Leonardo Ulloa – his three brothers are apparently policemen – and the former Brighton striker smashed home the Foxes’ first equaliser of the afternoon.

That jammy strike came less than two minutes after the opener from Aiden McGeady’s absolute pearler – the best thing he’s done in an Everton shirt by some distance. The home side looked as if they had dealt with the worst of the danger when, following a corner, Baines’ deflected shot fell to Distin. Kasper Schmeichel did well to smother the Frenchman’s close-range effort, and even though the loose ball fell to McGeady the keeper had five defenders back behind him on the line.

Undeterred, the little Irishman curled his shot over them all and in off the angle. There wasn’t even a postage stamp to aim for, in all honesty. The target was so small you could actually say that the shot was franked. And you don’t see many of them.

Everton were deserving of their lead at the interval, but with Romelu Lukaku failing to make an impact throughout and visibly flagging in the second half, they failed to do enough to see the game out. At some point Leicester were going to take some risks and this Everton side, though it’s good at controlling large portions of games, always looks susceptible to conceding a goal to some crude or unorthodox manoeuvre as opposed to being punished by slick, attacking football. A manky set-piece for instance, or a straightforward welly right up the middle looks as if it can undo 89 minutes of well-rehearsed training ground professionalism. You either have to starve the opposition of the ball altogether, and really crush their spirits, or you go forward and you score more goals, and as the match wore on the Toffees didn’t quite looked capable of either.

As the game got really messy in the closing stages, and Everton were guilty of some lazy passing when under no real pressure, the home side looked to have spurned their chance of a point when substitute Jeff Schlupp – not to be confused with his brother Mick – ran unhindered through the heart of the defence but smashed his shot somewhere over Ashby de la Zouch. They did get another chance though, on 85 minutes: half a tackle by Baines, a tentative challenge from recently booked Gareth Barry and then a tackle from Phil Jagielka that broke to the unmarked Chris Wood. He would have struggled to miss.

A bit of a ‘pisser’ then, as they say in UEFA coaching circles. To throw away two points like that, from a winning position away from home, is at best careless, at worst maybe an indication that we still lack a certain mentality or ruthlessness that the real top teams possess. Maybe even cynicism.

The next two games are at Goodison, which is positive, but big things are expected of both Chelsea and Arsenal this season following heavy investment in their squads over the summer. Points against those two will be as difficult to find as the really ill-advised diary that the police appear to be looking for in Sir Cliff Richard’s bachelor pad.

‘Had lunch with Una then the funniest thing happened. Met a lovely young lad. We had a little struggle cuddle. Pretty sure I got away with it though. Played a couple of sets with Sue afterwards, still can’t used to this new racquet…’

Christian A

Roberto Martinez, like the keenest of anglers, keeps showing that a bit of patience is required to eventually land your, er, fish.

This time the soccer salmon he has snagged, using a combination of cash, the promise of playing time and a handful of mealworm, is Christian Atsu. The Ghanaian winger has been signed up for a season-long loan and, as ever, if Martinez rates him then let’s see what he’s all about.

Everton’s style requires the ability to change pace, especially on the break away from home, but more importantly a system that is designed to isolate fullbacks and consistently produce one-on-one scenarios needs players who can make the most of them. The team as a whole keep the ball and manoeuvre the opposition around, sucking them into tighter spaces until the scene is set: then it’s switched quickly with the invitation for the tricky wide players to ‘fucking skin him lad’.

As stated previously, it will be a bit underwhelming – on last season’s form at least – if Atsu, a Ghanian international who played at the World Cup, doesn’t have the ability to shift Steven Pienaar or Aiden McGeady from the Blues’ starting line-up.

Martinez has talked of still being willing to business right up until the last day of the transfer window, which would make you think he has someone in mind and but he’s not going to be held to ransom. As that deadline gets closer clubs and agents become a lot more amenable, and if you are  confident that you are willing to go with what you’ve got for the start of the season, if push comes to shove, then that puts you in a strong position to negotiate from.

Samuel Eto’o’s been mentioned again. As ever, the acid test is ‘where you arsed when you thought he was signing for Liverpool?’ Still, as again stated previously, it’s still Samuel Eto’o so it would be quietly ace if it did happen. It seems unlikely that we are going to pay his batty wages though, and you would have to wonder whether he would be happy playing second fiddle to Romelu Lukaku for what must be one of his final seasons at the top of the game. If you were him, wouldn’t you be tempted by the MLS at this point, while you are still half-decent and you are already Brewstered? A couple of seasons in New York or Los Angeles would be just the ticket.

There’s talk of Aroune Kone possibly returning at some unspecified point but we will believe that when we see it. Hopefully he does come back and looks like the player who at spells for Wigan looked a ‘proper handful’, especially against Everton. At the moment though he just feels like an almost mythical Danny Williamson-type player. Minus the one good game in the derby.

Finally, nothing to do with football, but the ‘controversy’ surrounding how some sections of the media dealt with the death of Robin Williams. What did anyone expect from Fox News in the US or TalkSport over here? These are outlets who employ pundits for their empathy with knee-jerk knobheads. Their tag lines should be: ‘Saying the first thing that was going to come into your head, to save you the effort’.

Just as predictable was the back-and-forth on the subject that makes social media increasingly tiring. The people who feel the need to say how un-arsed they are by the death of celebrities are now more boring than the serial RIP-ers they ostentatiously distance themselves from at every kicking of the bucket, every shuffling off of this mortal coil. Whether you are a fan of Mrs Doubtfire or not, someone like Williams does form part of a shared experience – it’s not unnatural for people to comment on his demise, especially in the circumstances. The constant messages about being in a better place and all that aren’t for everyone, but they don’t really do any harm either, so is there really the need to sound the ‘this country since Diana died’ klaxon every frigging time?

SC Paderborn 3 Everton 1

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Right then, Everton’s preseason preparations continue to stumble along, with the Toffees remaining winless following this latest shellacking by continental opposition.

Obviously results are completely meaningless in these games, but you would at least want to see a decent level of performance, what with the season about to start next week and everything. By all accounts though, they were last again, and it’s going to need a transformation of Frank Maloney proportions if they are going to start the season at Leicester in the manner that all the giddy previews have predicted in the papers and online.

Young striker Chris Long opened the scoring on 16 minutes, neatly dragging back Steven Pienaar’s infield pass before curling his shot up and over Lukas Kruse in the Paderborn goal. It looked good on the minty footage of someone’s telly that the Metro are showing on their website, complete with wobbly phone and big shadow across the screen.

The lead was only short-lived, as Tim Howard conceded a penalty less than two minutes later and was easily beaten from the spot by Moritz Stoppelkamp. There were no clips of the rest of the game but we’ve all seen shite Everton performances before to know what they look like.

In the second half Marvin Duksch and Daniel Bruckner scored the goals that won the game for the newly promoted Bundesliga side.

Seamus Coleman is still missing with a hamstring strain, which is a bind but understandable, however slightly more mysterious is the absence of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas who Roberto Martinez has said could miss the start of the season.

Why, exactly? What sort of holiday have they been on since the World Cup? Getting quadra-spangled every night at DC10? Madness. Surely, they will at least be on the bench for the first match. It’s almost inconceivable that they won’t be.

Can you actually have a ‘must win’ game for the very first fixture? It’s just that if they get beaten by Leicester they then face two eminently losable home games – it’s really not the start you want if you have genuine ambitions of getting in the top four. Points at this stage of the season count just as much as the ones at the end – just look at the way we shit the bed at places like Norwich at the start of last season and how it eventually cost us.

How Everton is this, thinking about the pressure being on already before a ball’s even been kicked in anger? Ace.

Has anyone else got the feeling though that this season is going be a bit wacky and wild? It’s just something about all the positivity, expectation and the weird, listless preseason. Add in the unknown element of the Europa League too and you get the creeping feeling that it’s going to be ‘eventful’.

Nolito’s Way (Everton 1 Celta Vigo 3)

It’s alright, Everton never play well in preseason.

That’s the stock reaction from anyone trying to be all laid back when the Blues get gubbed two weeks from the start of the season. And it’s true, the Toffees are notoriously average in friendlies, but as reassurance it’s kind of a hollow statement. True, Everton rarely impress during preseason, but they often don’t play that great during the actual season either, so, you know, what’s your point?

Still, getting arsed about friendlies is pretty much the preserve of cubicle Kopites and Manchester United supporters. Wouldn’t it be great though if Roberto Martinez came out after this defeat at Prenton Park and instead of his gleaming positivity – giving the impression that a defensive shit-show was the plan all along and will see us right for the season, especially when we are getting bummed by horribly competent Europa League opposition – he puffed out his cheeks and said: ‘I’m shitting it here, to be honest lad. We’ve got to play Arsenal and Chelsea in a few weeks – did you see the kip of that? I think I might have ballsed this right up.’

Well, not great, but funny just to see everyone melt the fuck down.

Everton were missing Romelu Lukaku – or ’28 million pound man, Romelu Lukaku’ as he will be known by Sky Sports News forever more – Seamus Coleman and Kevin Mirallas, and that’s a lot of running-forward-shootiness right there. Still, they took the lead in the opening minutes when Leighton Baines’s low cross evaded Steven ‘I wish I’d never bothered now’ Naismith on the edge of the box. The ball ran to Aiden McGeady, who has to be the most ‘I’m really not sure what to make of this fucker’ player we have had in years, who stroked his shot first time into the bottom corner of the net as if he was playing a training match.

Unfortunately that mentality seemed to infect the rest of the team who got roundly ragged for the rest of a half that saw supposed Toffee-target Nolito score a hat-trick. The winger was unmarked for the first, cracking home a cross from the right wing, while the second was a neat chip over Tim Howard following an absolutely horrific mistake by John Stones. The young defender did that ‘can’t see a forward pass so I’m going to try and dribble past two of them even though there’s no real space’ thing that is normally followed by someone having the decency to hold their hand up and saying, ‘Right, I’ll go in goal for a bit’.

A deflected shot saw Nolito keep the match ball. Presumably he will have to deflate it if he’s going to get it in his hand luggage.

The Toffees face play in Paderborn on Saturday where they will play FC – not to be confused with their snooty cross-town rivals ‘2 Der’.

‘Did he just really say that.’

‘Yeah, I think he did.’

‘Jesus Christ.’

Atsu Picks You

After no updates all summer there’s a new This Is Not Football laptop and a boring train ride every morning, so there’s every chance there could be regular drivel on here for a while.

There’s no guarantee that it will all be about Everton though, so you have been warned.

For now though, there is a little bit, with the news that Christian Atsu’s loan move looks in doubt. It’s hard to work out exactly who is meant to be to blame. There is talk of a January recall clause that has annoyed the player and his folk, but some sources appear to be saying Everton are the ones insisting on it, which makes it sound more like a ‘send back because he’s last clause’.

Actually, it might be dead simple, but having only skim-read the stories we can’t work it out. A lack of guaranteed playing time is said to be a concern as well – again though, is that on the part of Chelsea or Atsu himself?

If he’s good enough he will play – if he doesn’t fancy himself against Aiden McGeady or the considerably more mature Steven Pienaar then maybe Everton really isn’t the place for him. The shithouse.

Obviously we take that last bit back if he signs.

In other news, there is a big mental Lenin-style picture of Roberto Martinez being lashed up on the end of the Main Stand. There is only ever one rule of thumb with matters like this: imagine if it was over the road and a huge, sinister picture of wartime gumshoe Brendan Rodgers peering out across the city.

‘Look, his eyes seem to follow you everywhere.’

‘I think that’s his lad.’

Anyway, it’s weird and the club need to be careful that they don’t kick the arse out of the cult of personality with Martinez. Less is more sometimes. Well, it isn’t, it’s always less, by definition really, but less can be better.

Finally, all-round good egg Steven Naismith has bought a load of tickets for the match and asked the Job Centre to distribute them to the city’s unemployed. An absolutely lovely, selfless gesture, but it’s an indication of just what a fucking bad-minded culture we live in that the statement that was made explaining why he has done this had to contain the bit about the tickets going to ‘people who are really looking for work and are unemployed through no fault of their own’. Because they just knew that if they didn’t qualify it there would be all sorts moaning about ‘Why should they get a fucking freebie when I’m up at 6.30 every morning in all weathers? No one ever gave me a handout and even if he offered me one I wouldn’t take it anyway because the thing about me is I’ve got too much pride, it’s just the way I am, not like all these lazy scroungers. I bet most of these tickets end up going to immigrants anyway. The Scottish cunt.’

Like we said, it’s a boring train journey.