Well then, Toffee lads and ladies, with no Premier League matches for a fortnight we find ourselves scraping around for some sort of Everton ‘content’ to fill up our little blue corners of the internet.
Two of the most prominent bits of news concern Belgians not playing for Everton. The first is Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe – his nickname would clearly have been ‘Mo’ – whose loan deal wasn’t ratified by FIFA. It’s not exactly clear what happened, although the fact that Everton wanted to do a deal at the last minute seems to be the crux of the matter. The big mad rush – presumably when it became clear that Michael Essien wasn’t coming – meant that someone, somewhere failed to get some paperwork in on time.
Everton were quick to assure everyone that it wasn’t them who left the documents in the infamous ‘NTL tray’ between a yellowing Mersey Mart and a polythene-wrapped Innovations catalogue. But then they would, wouldn’t they?
It seems a bit harsh that a technicality means a player who is out of favour with his present club has been denied a chance to play somewhere where he is needed, but FIFA must have decided that they have to draw the line somewhere – if they didn’t then deals would be getting done later and later, making a mockery of the idea of a transfer deadline. Heaven forbid.
The other Belgian who might not be turning out for the Toffees much longer is Marouane Fellaini, if you believe quotes attributed to him in his homeland’s press. According to Nieuwsblad – not to be confused with the current affairs programme from the streets of Stockwell – Fellaini said:
I am just starting my fifth season at Everton, this will be one of my last. I have seen everything. In January or at the end of the season I will turn to another club or championship.
Which seems a bit cheeky, to be honest, and possibly a bit premature. After all, it’s only recently that he has really started to produce big performances on anything like a regular basis, and that’s since he’s been moved up into the – wait for it – Tim Cahill position. Which could mean that he faces the same situation that Cahill did even when at his pomp in a blue shirt, i.e. the role is so specific that the teams who could afford him would not really want him. His only real hope of a move to a Champions League regular would be that someone decides he can be equally effective in his original position as a defensive midfielder. And that’s far from a given, going on the evidence of his Everton career so far.
Talking of players leaving, did you get a brief shiver down your spine when Sky Sports News started their report on Croatia’s game last week by stating that Jose Mourinho was in the crowd? They continued by surmising that he was there to watch Luka Modric – a bit late now – but the fact that Nikica Jelavic came off the bench to score the game’s only goal makes the pessimist – or ‘Evertonian’ – in you wonder whether the man who likes to think of himself as the Portuguese Brendan Rodgers might be tempted to make a bid for the Everton goal machine in January.
You weren’t thinking that?
But you are now?
On the subject of Rodgers, his biggest achievement since he arrived at Anfield is that taking the piss out of them is no longer like shooting fish in a barrel. No, now it’s as if the fish have climbed out of the barrel, applied for a firearms permit and decided to ‘have a game of Deerhunter’.
Where do you start? That fucking documentary, perhaps?
CS gas me and call me racist Ron, but that just looks like the most spectacular piece of television since, er, fucking hell, no, the only thing that springs to mind is when that lunatic girl Kinga on Big Brother went out onto the grass and… well, you know the rest. And in many ways her actions could be seen as a disturbing metaphor for what is happening at Liverpool at the moment.
Let’s not overlook John W Henry’s amazing open letter to the supporters as well. There simply isn’t enough internet available for a line by line deconstruction of this exercise in flannel and double-speak, but a few gems in particular cannot be allowed to slip by without comment.
Our ambitions do not lie in cementing a mid-table place with expensive, short-term quick fixes that will only contribute for a couple of years.
How will you cement your mid-table finish then?
We will invest to succeed. But we will not mortgage the future with risky spending.
We did that last year.
We will build and grow from within, buy prudently and cleverly and never again waste resources on inflated transfer fees and unrealistic wages. We have no fear of spending and competing with the very best but we will not overpay for players.
That’s the nugget, right there. How can you set out to ‘buy prudently and cleverly’? As opposed to fucking what? Isn’t that what everyone believes they are doing with every deal?
What he actually means is ‘cheaply and hope that some of them turn out decent’.
Also, you cannot compete with the best for players and not overpay at the same time. It’s impossible when the market sets the price.
The rest is all ‘jam tomorrow’ stuff that he can’t be pinned down on, interspersed with woolly phrases about a ‘winning ethos’ that look like they were taken off the bottom of a motivational poster showing some crashing waves or a plucky penguin. The soft get.
Anyway, that’s enough about them. How about that Leighton Baines and his typically self-effacing reaction to scoring his first – admittedly slightly deflected – goal for England? In a normal week that would make him the coolest sportsman on the planet, but that honour goes to Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. Read the article and then make sure you click on the link to his full letter. As a wealthy sportsman he could have easily shrugged and had nothing to do with the whole issue – especially given the Fox-fuelled forces of bigotry and hate that will inevitably be massed against him now – but he decided, to his immense credit, that sometimes you have to make a stand.
Finally, do you reckon that when Professor Stephen Hawking’s voice came over the PA for the start of the Paralympics, loads of them wheelchair rugby muscle-bosuns went: ‘Fucking nerd’?