Thanks for all the messages informing us that a raw, unfiltered version of this preview was released onto the market in error on Thursday night. Rumours have it that a couple of readers in Scotland actually overheated and died from reading it. The present version has been bashed and repressed, if you consume it in small quantities and drink plenty of fluids you should be just fine. Go on, just rub a bit on your gums.
So right then, yeah, Norwich City.
You know, you sit down in front of your computer and you wait for something to leap into your mind that you can work with – a touchstone, a jumping off point – but when you think of the present day Canaries all that really springs to mind is the innocent, mournful face of Chris Hughton, wishing he was still in his tight shorts and Hummel sweatshirt putting the cones out down at the Lane instead of stuck in the full glare, front and centre, dressed like one of those fellas at the services who tries to get you to sign up for the RAC.
Norwich really are the anonymous team of the Premier League this season, with even the usual drab suspects like Fulham and West Bromwich Albion having a bit of drama. Whenever the new Baggies coach played in goal was he known as ‘Pepe Mel at one’?
What? If you think that’s an anachronistic cultural reference then please, don’t read on.
Anyway, a lot of Evertonians think that we get a raw deal on Match of the Day, but it seems like by the time Norwich come on everyone has turned over to watch Arthur Negus on Antiques Roadshow.
So as we said, we’re struggling here. It’s hard, not to start dragging up things that have been battered to death already, like Delia being arseholed on the pitch at Carrow Road and all that. That said, every time you see Alex Ferguson sat next to Bobby Charlton – inexplicably dressed like the fella on the Sandeman Port label – watching Manchester United having their latest collective emotional breakdown, do you not envisage him at some point, when the crowd properly turn on David Moyes, taking to the pitch with a microphone to start pleading with them for patience?
‘I’m going Bobby, they’re getting the hairdryer treatment, the fucking lot of them. I’ve had enough of this. No, I won’t sit down, they respect me, they’ll listen to reason.’
Of course you do.
Anyway, Norwich. Of course they were the Blues’ opponents on the opening day of the season, when looking back at the match report, Roberto Martinez and his new team veritably ‘set their stall out’ for what’s happened since.
We reckon if you actually go back and read all that then it saves us padding this bit out much longer.
Oh, and talking of linking back to previous bits on here, the latest ‘revelation’ about Thomas Hitzlsperger pretty much backs up what we suggested back before that West Hame game when the players wore the rainbow laces. The picture that Hitzlsperger paints of life for a gay fella in professional football is not the living hell that many outsiders like to automatically assume it is. He certainly doesn’t come across as any sort of victim.
Maybe more current players would be comfortable with going public about the fact that they are gay if newspapers didn’t feel the need to make such a big song and dance about it just to underline the fact that, like, they are dead cool with it and, you know, it shouldn’t really be a story but, you know, with the poor dears having to put up with all these bigoted cunts in football and that.
In other news, Everton are reported to be close to signing someone and it’s widely believed to be Aiden McGeady. Again, we’ve been over this before – everyone seems to assume that he’s last but he must have something that Martinez admires and, well, the Toffees’ chief hasn’t got much wrong so far.
The way his teams play, ideally they pull sides apart on the counter-attack, but because they dominate possession it can often lead to periods of walking-paced stalemate as the opposition retreat to the edge of their own box. When that happens you need players who can go past opponents and ‘force this issue’ from almost a standing start. Gerard Deulofeu is that sort of player and so is Ross Barkley – the Everton boss must think that McGeady brings a bit more of the same. Hopefully that’s the case.
Going back to Barkley, there is still occasionally talk of United making some sort of bid for him, and while we normally try to be as realistic as possible about transfers and the motivations that make them happen, you have to think that only some sort of short-sighted maniac would advise him to go there right now. In fact, any midfielder would have to think twice before being parachuted into that whole cluster-fuck. Imagine the pressure on him to bring back the glory days singlehandedly, especially on someone as young as Barkley.
‘Right then son, David’s invested £50 million in you. Pardon? £55 million? What? I thought we agreed… Seriously? Again? Can someone get David on the phone please. Anyway, that’s not your problem. As I was saying…’
At Everton Barkley is guaranteed his place, in a team built around him by a manager who has already shown he believes in him and can bring the best out of him, and he’s playing in a side with a lot more confidence than United who, as things stand, have more chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League. If not too much changes between now and the end of the season then he looks like a near certainty to be going to the World Cup, after which his profile worldwide could be off the scale, putting him in a much stronger position than he is in now to negotiate terms with whoever he plays for next season.
Why would you jeopardise that?
Finally, did you read Big Sam’s email to the West Ham fans giving it loads about ‘coming out fighting’? In other words, ‘this lot are going to have to sell more wrist pamphlets and pay up my contract, Big Sam don’t walk away from the Benjamins’. It’s almost stirring stuff, until you get to the crux of his plan of attack, which is to wait until they get their defenders back which should see their ‘clean sheet ratio’ back up.
St Crispin’s Day it ain’t.
Right then, er, Efan Ekoku, Pat ‘van den Howitzer’, Mike Walker, that’s your lot.