If you are struggling at the wrong end of the table and getting happy-slapped by all and sundry almost every week it must be tough for the manager to get you motivated.
Before each game Paul Lambert must face his young beleaguered squad, press play on the stereo, wait until the real nuances of Survivor’s ‘Hearts On Fire’ have sunk in for his assembled charges and then begin a piece of oratory that takes the best bits of Al Pacino’s ‘inch by inch’ speech from Any Given Sunday, Vigo Mortenson’s ‘not this day’ address as Aragorn prepares to lead the suicide mission through the gates of Mordor, and just a dash of that Kenneth Branagh one where he’s on the horse.
Pumped up ‘to fuck’, the players go out believing that they are capable of tearing up the form book – whatever that is – and scrapping for one of those inches (actually points, but you get the gist) that will eventually safeguard their place in the Premier League.
With all that in mind then, there is a certain onus on their opposition to remind them that they are in fact shite and facing relegation for a reason.
So – and this is something of a rhetorical question – what do Everton do?
That’s correct, within two minutes of the Blues’ last ‘easy’ home game for some time, Darron Gibson missed a tackle on Charles N’Zogbia and then the whole ground watched as Christian Benteke jogged past Johnny Heitinga – who was heard to shout ‘have we started?’ – and drilled a low shot past Tim Howard and into the corner of the Park End goal, much to the giddy delight of the assembled Dereks and Dougies in the away end.
On 20 minutes though, the Blues drew level thanks to the most ‘Victor Anichebe’ goal Victor Anichebe will ever score. The defender Ciaran Clark must have felt like he was playing the arse end of a pantomime horse with Jonathan King as Anichebe reached behind and mauled him while receiving Kevin Mirallas’s pass, turning and slotting past Brad Guzan, the American goaly who looks like the incongruous bass player in some band of scruffy long-hairs.
Nice one. Villa deflated. Business as usual. Go get ‘em you sexy Blue boys.
Three minutes later Villa were back in front thanks to a close-range header from Gabriel Agbonlahor. The ‘irony’ of that being that it was more than likely fear of the Popeye-faced forward’s pace out wide that persuaded David Moyes to persist with Phil Jagielka at full-back, rather than Phil Neville, and ask Heitinga to mark Benteke. More of that particular little tango shortly.
After the break Andreas Weimann – played onside by Heitinga, naturally – blazed over a great chance to extend the visitors’ lead. However, if the Villans were thinking, ‘Ooh, that was the one’, they need not have worried. They looked like scoring every time they broke and on the hour Weimann atoned for his miss by sending over a great cross from the right. With Heitinga in attendance, but only in an observational capacity, Benteke glanced a header home for a peach of a goal.
Although they actually played quite a bit of decent football of their own, despite the shitty pitch, Everton found themselves 3-1 down then. Lumme.
On 68 minutes though, with Nikica Jelavic and Bryan Oviedo on for the disappointing Mirallas and indescribable Heitinga, Marouane Fellaini, who had been overshadowed completely by his countryman Benteke, started to get his shit together. He played a one-two with Anichebe, cutting in from the right-hand side and beating Guzan with a low snapshot from 12 yards.
From that point on Everton absolutely hammered Villa and it’s perhaps a sign of how our expectations have been raised, despite the Blues’ continued propensity for self-sabotage, that almost everyone in the stadium knew for certain that they would equalise at the very least.
Corners and crosses rained down on the Villa penalty box but the breakthrough never actually came until the third minute of injury time, just after Jelavic had scuffed a chance straight into the arms of Guzan. Leighton Baines sent in yet another corner that landed right on the button – the big fuzzy button that is Fellaini’s noggin.
Boosh, have that.
Obviously Evertonians were delighted with the comeback, and Fellaini even had a half-chance to complete his hat-trick and seal a win – Leroy Fer would have scored it – but the elation was tempered quite a bit by the knowledge that this was two bad points dropped.
You can go on about ‘character’ all you like, as is customary after games like this, but in truth all you are really discussing is the order in which you shared the goals with a bad team.
‘I’m so proud of our boys today, they were rubbish first and then it was the other side’s turn. I’d be going fucking mad if we were good at the beginning but then not as good at the end though – that would be totally unacceptable.’
Back in the Everton changing room, littered with all the shit that the scruffy cunts always lash over the floor, Steve Round makes the players sit down and selects an appropriate CD from one of those round canvas zippy wallet things. He pops it into the Akai stereo, solemnly switches it from ‘tuner’ to CD, presses play, there’s a crackle and a hiss and then there’s the unmistakable sound of a taxi door closing before Marlon Brando says, ‘Hey Charlie, I’m glad you stopped by for me, I’ve been wanting to talk to you.”
‘Yeah, sure kid…’