Let’s face it, this blog has already got its flip-flops on, or one foot on the plane, or whatever ‘not that arsed now there’s nothing to play for’ footballing metaphor you like.
A decent point at White Hart Lane, all things considered, and then a routine victory over the club we aspire to be has set us up for what’s potentially a humdinger at the Emirates on Tuesday night.
Woah, woah, woah there. The club we aspire to be? What’s this fucker on about here, Maureen?
Well, firstly – and imagine us doing the now infamous Brendan Rodgers finger and thumb counting here – Queens Park Rangers have got a wealthy owner who isn’t afraid of lavishing his wealth on the club. Are you saying you wouldn’t want someone like Tony Fernandes to buy Everton?
Secondly, they have a manager who has won silverware and has a reputation for playing an exciting brand of attacking football.
These bleeders are living embodiment of the Premier League dream then. Instead of being delighted at their imminent demise, football fans around the country should be weeping at the plight of the Super Hoops. If the golden ticket combination of a benevolent billionaire, Harry Redknapp and £130k per week Christopher Samba can’t even guarantee survival in the top flight, never mind taking you to the ‘next level’ with the elite clubs, what chance has anyone got? Seriously, even the Manchester City fans looked unhappy the other week, and they are the defending champions with owners that are richer than God. Well, defending in the loosest sense of the word, like. Anyway, the way football is going you might as well stop worrying about stuff you have exactly fuck all control over, and may or may not actually happen, and do something crazy like just go the match and enjoy the game itself.
It’s hard though, isn’t it? When Kevin Mirallas slalomed through the Tottenham defence last week and scored an absolute wonder goal, your first instinct is to leap into the air, overjoyed that you’ve witnessed such a feat of athletic prowess. And then you think, do you know what, we don’t even own Finch Farm, and the whole moment’s ruined isn’t it?
Similarly when Tim Howard kept the scores level in the first half of the QPR match with a brilliant one-handed save from Loic Remy, a plaintive voice cried out from the Lower Bullens: ‘That’s all very well, but do you really think we are getting the best deal from Kitbag?’
Incidentally, in Remy and Stephane Mbia, Rangers have two players who for years we thought were imaginary, existing only in the fevered minds of football writers inventing Everton transfer stories.
Anyway, despite Everton’s present ‘plight’, David Moyes’s humble plodders were more than a match for Harry’s thrilling entertainers. Fancy that.
Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar returned at the expense of Johnny Heitinga and the rather disappointing Ross Barkley while Victor Anichebe kept his place up front. The Nigerian striker won all the plaudits for his workrate at Spurs, despite playing ‘first touch roulette’ every time the ball was knocked up to him – even the pass for Mirallas’s goal was meant for Nikica Jelavic. Against QPR though his control was impeccable and he continued running and getting stuck in – although nobody would need much motivation to get into Clit Hill. He earned that nickname because he’s a bit of a cunt. And yes, that is a joke stolen from the Clit Eastwood strip in awful sub-Viz early 90s comic, Zit. They also had one about ET being the bastard son of Jack Charlton and Anne Diamond. The denouement was he became a star footballer in his own right before being literally kicked in half by Vinne Jones shouting something hilarious like ‘Take that you alien twat’.
It wasn’t all totally puerile though. They did examine the human condition in the thought-provoking ‘Screaming Knievel’, the tale of a naked stuntman who specialised in daringly leaping rows of greased cucumbers.
Back to the match though, tax averse tactician Redknapp was, for once, not too far from the truth when he said that there wasn’t much between the sides in the first half. However, his lot – or Mark Hughes’s as he is quick to point out now they are doomed – more or less threw their hand in the moment Darron Gibson’s low shot struck Hill’s leg, wrong-footed fifties smoothy Julio Cesar and looped into the Park End goal.
Instead of conceding a sickener after the break, as is often the Everton way, the Blues should have extended their lead when Mirallas’s quick feet left a defender for dead and then Anichebe showed great composure to make himself space before planting his shot against the inside of the post, only to see it somehow rebound out to safety.
He wouldn’t be denied for long though. On 55 minutes, from a Leighton Baines corner, Sylvain Distin won a header that would be described in any quarters as ‘towering’. Anichebe, stood in what is officially known as the ‘shoved between the shoulder blades while trying to catch the referee’s attention’ position, turned the ball over the line to get the goal his recent performances deserved.
Fair play young man.
Going to watch Everton at the moment, when there doesn’t really feel like there’s that much to play for – we won’t finish fourth – is absolutely ace. Everyone just seems quite relaxed, from the crowd to the players – we’ve even had some sexy formation experiments – and some of the football has been great. The ‘wing play’ in particular, from Baines, Pienaar, Mirallas and Seamus Coleman is proper School of Science stuff. A veritable delight to behold.
History tells us that a win at Arsenal is unlikely – they just have a little bit too much pace throughout the side; enough to give them the edge against most teams, and that’s why they must be favourites to win on Tuesday and to finish in fourth place.
What’s more, Moyes’s poor record at Old Trafford, the Emirates, Anfield and Stamford Bridge is the stuff of legend now – although it conveniently ignores City and Spurs – but it would be interesting to see which managers in the past ten years have got good records away at those grounds. And speaking of our esteemed leader, watching his Everton side, marshalled by the superb budget-buy Gibson, being far too professional for Redknapp’s wealthy wildcards, it hit home just how much we take for granted with his teams.
At times people moan about the perceived emphasis on workrate and effort, but just remember how galling it is when those qualities are absent. It’s not that long ago that we used to get bummed by Charlton or Ipswich and we’d cast envious eyes over their fit, well-organised sides and, staring glumly at Steve Watson’s big beetroot kite, say: ‘All we want’s a bit of effort; it’s not much to ask’. Fuck it, there was a time when people used to wonder whether ‘a season in the Championship might actually do us good, get reorganised, wipe the slate and all that’. Not any more though.
So, while the majority of football fans at every level are tearing their hair out about some shite or other, kick back, hang loose and bask in the knowledge that this is a good Everton team and watching them do their stuff is, on the whole, quite a lot of fun. It won’t last forever, nothing ever does, so you’d be mentile if you didn’t let yourself enjoy this. Again, cast your mind back to a time when we used to rust our armour every summer because ‘Cahill to Man United is a done deal’. Worry about the bad shit when it happens and not a moment before.
Finally, talking of enjoying stuff, just how great is the Premier League generally at this time of the season? Everyone gets sniffy about the ‘best league in the world’ title that Sky have bestowed upon their prize jewel, but in terms of entertainment it is absolutely magnificent when you witness bedlam like that Newcastle versus Sunderland match.
In particular, the impartial Niall Quinn’s commentary just about summed up football as a whole when he barely restrained himself from screaming: ‘3-0 AWAY IN THE DERBY, I DON’T HEAR ANYONE BLATHERING ON ABOUT THE JARROW MARCHERS OR THE INVASION OF FECKING ETHIOPA NOW! SUCK MY DISCO PANTS YOU MOTHERS!’