On Their Toes


In the aftermath of a game in which Kevin Mirallas’s foul was so heinous it threatened to wipe out several generations of Suarezs (Suarii?) it turns out that it’s actually one of Everton’s players who is quite badly knacked.

Leighton Baines, who limped out of the derby after 50 minutes, has been diagnosed with a toe injury – and more specifically, a fractured phalange. Good heavens, there’s a promiscuous celebrity joke just bursting to get out there.

Anyway, this injury is clearly the most puzzling one that the Everton medical team have seen since Duncan Ferguson’s fractured scupula, seeing as they have given the rather open-ended estimate of 10 days to six weeks before Baines can return to action.

‘Yeah, well…’ Puffs out cheeks. ‘He’ll definitely play again like. Other than that though, you know, how long’s a piece of string? Pfft. You know, it’s one of them really… BONES! Mad aren’t they?’

And at this juncture, in order to try and claw a bit of the moral high ground back from the Kop’s resident outrage-Sherpas, we would like to point out that this injury to Baines was clearly the result of a targeted revenge attack by, dunno, one of their players. Let’s just say Suarez.

‘That’s for Jim Beglin, that, Negrito,’ he said. ‘And for Dylan turning electric, you bad scruff.’


Anyway, the first question raised for Everton in the aftermath of this assault – obviously after ‘seriously, you can’t be any more specific than that?’ – is who will replace the ubiquitous Baines as Everton left-back until he returns?

The obvious candidate would be Bryan Oviedo, but he wasn’t even on the bench on Saturday. Does anyone know why? And yes, we do accept that is the kind of thing you go on internet sites like this to find out, but we haven’t got the first clue, quite frankly. Is the half-a-haircut Costa Rican injured himself or is he, as we are all beginning to suspect, possibly just a bit shit?

Either way, it seems unlikely he’s going to come straight in now, and that leaves Roberto Martinez with two options, the first being playing someone out of position.

Gareth Barry deputising wasn’t too bad as an improvised stop-gap during the derby but his searing lack of pace means that there’s no way he could start a game there. If Tony Hibbert’s close to fitness he could perhaps come back on the right with Seamus Coleman moving sides, although this too seems unlikely given that Hibbert is perhaps the least Martinez player imaginable, let’s be honest. More realistic then is Sylvain Distin moving to left-back, with John Stones or Johnny Heitinga partnering Phil Jagielka in the middle.

The other option, and you can’t help but imagine Martinez being secretly thrilled about finally getting the excuse to give it a run out, is the dreaded three at the back. We discussed it loads in pre-season, about how it’s terrifying and just conjures images of all sorts romping through the Wigan Athletic defence as Gary Caldwell forlornly pleads for offside, so there’s no point dredging over it again other than to say: no one who is any good plays that way. Not in the Premier League anyway.

Obviously this is all moot if Oviedo did just have a slight knock at the weekend.

Or we recall Luke Garbutt.

And that’s it really, other than to let you know we’ve now used up most of the stuff that was going to go in the Stoke City preview.

But still, seriously, it’s been an honour to shine some light on the subject for you.

7 thoughts on “On Their Toes

  1. Sir, I leave this article enlightened, for which I thank you. Moments of clarity in my life are few and far between and much like the photons that emanate from the sun, endlessly, silently crashing against my increasingly ‘skin-gifted’ pate they often are but passing gifts from whichever god provides. But your treatise on the mystery of Martinez’s Machiavellian scheme to wipe out our back four is as my own personal spotlight of the truth leading through what shall come to be known as A.B (anno Baines).

    Alternatively, thanks for conspicuously not having any sort of inside info.

  2. The hypocrisy of the wailing from Anfield about the Mirallas attempted assassination of Suarez has surpassed even their lack of self-awareness and memory-loss of foul deeds in derbies past. Let’s face it, Suarez has had it coming, not that I would condone reprisals and the settling of old scores…….much. I can’t help thinking Mirallas had better watch his back in the return fixture in January though.
    The loss of Baines up to Christmas could not have come at a worse time with away games at Utd and Arsenal in December. All of the options you outline for RM are possible. I think we’ll be able to have a good look at one of them vs Stoke on Saturday.
    Thoroughly enjoyable article as usual Mark.

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