Roberto had a dream.
He was back in his old primary school, naked, but no one appeared to be able to see him as he tried to preserve his modesty and yet attract their attention at the same time.
To be honest it probably had nothing to do with football and certainly doesn’t merit a terrace chant.
The Spaniard’s Super Blues signed off the season the other week by comfortably beating FA Cup disappointment-bound Hull City Tigers 2-0 at the KC Stadium. The tardiness of this ‘report’ precludes going into any great detail about the match, other than to admire the two lovely team goals scored by James McCarthy and Romelu Lukaku. In fact the goals simply crowned what was an almost textbook Martinez match. The Toffees knocked the ball around patiently in their own half, drawing striped shirts forward like moths to a naked flame, before quickly moving into the spaces those pressing midfielders inevitably left in their wake.
Steve Bruce, who on the touchline always looks like he’s on the verge of breaking into the Chubby Brown ‘back scuttle’ dance, will have told his players that they shouldn’t blindly chase the game, but it takes so much discipline to simply cede possession, especially at home, and Everton are great at exploiting that very British desire to get stuck in and win the ball back.
The bit that the Blues need to improve on next season is turning their almost endless ice hockey-style breakaways into more goals. At times this season when we’ve had defence’s outnumbered and individual fullbacks isolated we’ve looked a bit laissez faire, almost as if spurning an opportunity was no big deal because another one would be along in a couple of minutes. It’s easier to suggest that change than it is to implement it though.
Keeping Steven Naismith in the side might go some way though. The Scot – one of the most improved players at the club in years – always seems to bring a bit more ‘end product’ to the team than some of his more naturally gifted colleagues. He’s certainly one of the most improved players we’ve had at Everton for some time: we’re talking Mark Pembridge, Lee Carsley and Marouane Fellaini levels of increased value to the squad.
When it comes to sticking the ball in the onion bag next season, clearly the future of Romelu Lukaku is going to go a long way to shaping Martinez’s thinking. Rumours abound as to where exactly the Belgian is going to be, with some even suggesting that he could come back to Everton again. That’s presumably because we faded just enough at the end of the last campaign to demonstrate to the top sides that we’re not quite dangerous enough for them to have to worry about lending us players.
Other stories have Chelsea treating the player like leather seats or a sat nav – an optional extra that they are willing to sling in to sweeten the deal for one of their own targets.
‘Listen, it’s taxed for six months and I’ll even throw you in a Lukaku and some of them boxing gloves to hang off your rear view mirror. We got a deal, son?’
If Martinez views Lukaku as the ideal man to lead the line for the Toffees then fair enough, who are we to argue with the big-collared Catalan? However, some of his performances through the middle of the season were flakier than the Singing Detective eating a Greggs steak bake in bed. He’s good, and you presume that given his age he will only get better, but there’s a feeling that perhaps there are players out there who could do even better given the amount of possession Everton have in games and the number of decent opportunities they create. Unsworth-arsed Swansea centre-forward Wilfried Bony has been mentioned in passing, and you could see someone like that, who lacks Lukaku’s pace but is better at holding the ball up and actually heading the fucking thing, prospering alongside the creative players the Blues already have.
Whisper it like, but couldn’t you see ditch-digging simpleton Ricky Lambert scoring bags full for us?
Unfortunately all these characters will cost beaucoup dollars. And while we have the new telly money, so does every other bleeder in the Premier League – which is why all the value’s to be had overseas. Get some exotic foreigners in Bobby, lad.
Not that Traore though, obviously.
And speaking of elaborate players from lands afar, well, Spain, the indications seem to be that Gerard Deulofeu will be returning to Barcelona. It’s a shame if that’s true, because we clearly never saw the best of a player who was always a bit more exciting in theory than practise. He will definitely improve with age, although he might always be one of them sorts of wingers who frustrate and delight in equal measure. At the moment his problem is that, for his style of play to be consistently effective you need either absolutely blinding pace, which he lacks, or the strength to fight your way past defenders once you’ve beaten them with the ball. That’s what he will develop over time – eventually fullbacks will be forced to foul him whereas at present he is dispossessed cleanly far too often, leaving him to do his Kevin and Perry ‘skim an imaginary stone’ thing on the touchline in a state of droopy-eyed disappointment.
That’s it for now, lids, lidettes and little Lidls. Attempts will be made to update this load of old cobblers more regularly following the recent hiatus – ‘Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of writing and also theatre, which has always been my first love’ – with tentative plans for some sort of World Cup ‘coverage’. By coverage, we mean snidey blog pieces about how, yes, we know the pundits are shit, they always are so there’s nothing particularly subversive about going on about it, and pointing out how clichéd it has become to point out World Cup clichés.