1. Although they lost, Everton showed everything that makes us very proud of them. Not only were they up against a side that won the Champions League last season before having another ton of money spent on them, but they faced them with a seriously weakened team.
It’s to the credit of David Moyes though, and the spirit that he has engendered within his squad, that players who are filling in, be it Thomas Hitzlsperger who is on a short term deal, Victor Anichebe stationed on the left wing or England centre-half Phil Jagielka at right-back, all pulled their tripes out and did their best for the team as a whole. Some of the football was superb.
2. The gap between Chelsea and Everton should be far greater given the money they have spent. Rafael Benitez’s side rode their luck, especially when Nikica Jelavic hit the woodwork with a free-kick and a flying header, and were comprehensively outplayed for most of the first half.
There were times when Manchester United used to sing ‘You’ve only come to see United’ and there was a degree of substance to their claims in that you were witnessing a magnificent, all-conquering side. For Chelsea to chant it about this lot though is a joke. They do have some cracking players, but for all that everyone, and excuse the terminology here, ‘wanks over’ Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, they didn’t look any better than Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar here. The key thing is though they simply have more individuals of that sort of level than we do – their worst player would probably get straight in our team whereas ours might not even trouble their reserves.
3. Moyes apparently wants an advance on the new television money in January. Bill Kenwright has agreed this – he’s told him he can have a couple of grand as long as he gets one of them 3D Panasonics.
It will be interesting to see what happens in the transfer window now that this is in the public arena. As fans we like new players, and so the gut reaction seems to be that if we draw down on the improved broadcasting revenue and strengthen the squad we stand a great chance of clinching a place in the Champions League. It’s now or never, essentially.
However, there are plenty of factors to weigh up. First and foremost, we got into our present financial predicament by borrowing money to spend on players and their wages. This massive new broadcast rights deal will presumably give us a degree of wiggle room to at least work one hand out of the financial straitjacket Everton have been wearing for about as long as anyone can remember now. Borrow against it by all means, but you have to at least consider what then happens in two, five or ten years’ time when you want to buy players but all your income is going towards paying off old debts.
One of the biggest problems with football finances is that decisions with long term ramifications are made by managers who by the very nature of their role are only ever really interested in the short-term. That situation is even more pronounced at Everton at the moment because of the situation with Moyes’s contract. How willing are the owners to put the financial future of the club in the hands of someone who might walk away in six months and leave everyone else to deal with the repercussions?
On a footballing level, just how much money would be required to make a realistic push for the Champions League? We’ve done great so far but still we find ourselves outside of the top four with Arsenal and Tottenham starting to look pretty good, especially going forward. Are a couple of squad fillers – improvements on Anichebe and Steven Naismith – going to be enough to swing it, or do we need fellas who go straight into the line-up even if everyone is fit?
Finally, how much of a windfall would coming fourth represent? In terms of risk/reward is accumulating further debt in the hope of Champions League qualification a proposition that can be sold to the decision-makers, be that Kenwright or, more pointedly, the banks?
4. All the media talk after the match was about how Roman Abramovich can’t afford to let two-goal Frank Lampard leave. What about Sylvain Distin though? He’s in the same boat in terms of his contract and is more important to Everton than Lampard is to Chelsea.
He was great in this game and if the acceleration he showed at the end to catch up with and then welly Victor Moses was anything to go by there shouldn’t be any concerns whatsoever about his age.
5. It’s probably a bit soon to be writing Ross Barkley off just yet. Moyes must regret throwing this kid in at the start of last season because the hype and expectation surrounding him is in danger of stifling his career. He’s clearly not ready to start games and boss Premier League matches – otherwise he’d start before Hitzlsperger – but on the other hand it’s tough for him coming on when we are chasing the game, especially in his position. It’s alright for Apostolos Vellios, for instance, as he’s just got make a nuisance of himself in the box. Barkley has to try and influence the game from much deeper and with him being so eager to do well and make an impression he made some silly mistakes that Chelsea almost punished.
Another loan spell somewhere would probably do him the world of good.
6. Newcastle United is a weird one. St. James’ Park is never an easy place to go and after getting that weird hiding at Arsenal after playing pretty well in the first half there is every chance that they will have a point to prove in front of their own fans.
If Everton can get straight at them though, like they did against Chelsea, hounding them in their own half and then dominating possession, the reaction of their players and the crowd could be interesting.
One of the worst of the numerous frustrating draws this season was the one when the Geordies came to Goodison and Demba Ba’s late goals snatched a point after we absolutely murdered them, especially in the first half. We are better than them then – we just are – but we have to put them under pressure and make them do things and play in areas where they are not comfortable. Don’t you sometimes get the feeling that we do that well against the top sides but maybe don’t work quite as hard and concentrate as fully against the lesser teams and that’s why we drop so many stupid points?
7. Some welcome news is that Marouane Fellaini, who returns for the trip to Newcastle, has said that he is happy to honour his contract at Everton which runs until 2016.
Phone been quieter than expected then?
8. Happy New Year.
9. There’s no 10.