Swansea and Sunderland and That


Big wheel keep on turning.

This is being written dead late by which time you’ve read every last match report online or if you’ve not got a computer you’ve at least been to the barbers especially to read all their papers. That last bit obviously only applies to subscribers reading via the TINF semaphore service.

Anyway, given that so much time has expired, and the Arsenal game’s coming on the telly in a bit, this whole piece is going to be smooshed together with the Sunderland preview and the whole ungodly mess is going to be diced into bite-sized Parmentiers.

The term you are reaching for here is ‘phoning it in’.

Roberto Martinez warns about over-hyping Ross Barkley.

And rightly so. The midfielder scored a brilliant free kick and had another powerful run and shot, but some of the reaction in the press after the game was way over the top. By the standard Barkley set in the derby and at Old Trafford and the Emirates his overall performance here was way below par, to the extent that he looked like he was carrying an injury for most of the first half.

Anyone who writes about matches can’t help but have their report take shape while the game’s in progress and when he slipped when put in by Steven Pienaar the old faithful crutch of saying, ‘summed his afternoon up’, loomed large.

It would seem from now on though that much of the tabloid media have got their story where Everton are concerned.

Barkley doesn’t practise free kicks.

Firstly, why not? What else has he got to do that’s so pressing that he can’t have a little go now and again?

Have a word, Roberto.

Anyway, practise or not, what a timely humdinger this one was.

The top players nowadays – and we think Barkley is one, if you’ve got a bit of a titty lip about saying he wasn’t quite as divine in this game as the papers reckon – kicking these NASA footballs with their isosceles boots, seem to approach free kicks from improbable, post-modern angles. It’s almost as if they aim for an imaginary goal set at 30-odd degrees to the posts. Which is problematic for goalkeepers who are notorious for dealing almost exclusively in reality.

Anyway, whatever plane Barkley was operating in he struck the ball such that it arced viciously, like a mis-hit Swingball, but instead of striking a French exchange student in the neck it caromed off the slick underbelly of the crossbar and crossed the line in rain-sodden triumph. For a ball.

Seamus Coleman’s goal wasn’t bad either.

In fact it was utterly sensational, and no more than his performance deserved.

Coleman has always been popular just for his sheer enthusiasm and endless energy, but he just seems to improve all the time in every aspect of his game. In interviews he always comes across as level-headed and all that, but on the pitch he is utterly fearless and respecter of no reputation. No matter who he is up against his attitude seems to be, ‘Sound, dead skilful are you? Well today I am planning on running up and down here like fuck until someone tells me to stop. Care to join me, you bad jockey? Well let’s dance.’

‘Why didn’t David Moyes buy Barkley instead of Marouane Fellaini?’

Loads of observers are saying that. And the simple answer is ‘because only one of them was for sale’.

The same applies to Arsenal fans who keep assuming that they can just have Coleman as a replacement for Bacary Sagna.

Until they all inevitably spunk it up the wall on players’ wages the bigger-than-expected telly deal has given everyone a bit of financial leeway, at least to the extent that clubs like Everton, for so long scratching around to keep paying their three points over the vig every month, no longer have to cast a desperate eye over their prettiest daughter whenever the light is blocked through the pane of glass on the front door and those heavy knuckles begin knock, knock, knocking.

In short, fuck off.

Something about Sunderland.

We nearly always batter them at Goodison but this season has shown plenty of clubs that if you take any opponents for granted then you can very well come unstuck where you least expect it. They are bottom of the league for a reason though, i.e. because they are cack.

Their manager, Gus Poyet, comes across as something of a crank – one that looks a lot like a cartoon wolf who drives a car in an old, vaguely racist Disney feature.

His suggestion last week that the FA should consider having the season running to coincide with the school terms was an absolute doozy that never really got as much attention as it deserved.

Essentially it boiled down to, ‘Yeeeeeeaaaah, you think being in football is good like, but the holidays are shite. Not like them teachers, fucking hell…’

None of the reports confirmed whether he then went on to say something about ‘lazy frigging firemen. They’ve all got second jobs doing building and that, you know’.

Or whether he whistled as an attractive lady walked past, prompting his beating heart to literally protrude a foot out of his chest and his massive tongue to loll all the way to the floor.

He probably never, in fairness.

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