Hey, anybody there? Hello?
Been a while, hasn’t it? It’s poor form to not keep your blog updated like, but when you have been busy with a new media engagement, well, something has to give.
We can’t give too much away about this plum television gig, but if we say ‘a caravan on the outskirts of Hull’ we think most of you will know where we’re coming from.
So, what about them tricky Blues? Well, it’s still hard to draw any conclusions about this season – because it’s not concluded, for a start – but the stop-start nature of the fixture list and lack of consistency in the Toffees’ team selection has made everything a bit weird and off-kilter.
Sometimes Roberto Martinez’s men look inspired and unstoppable – Lille at home, for instance, for who that little baldy fella has probably still got a bad weed on – but at others, such as Swansea City at Goodison or most recently Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, they appear to lack a certain something, especially in and around the opponents’ penalty area.
The form of Romelu Lukaku is certainly a major factor, as the once buccaneering Belgian looks a pale shadow of the player who was, to coin a footballing phrase, ‘monstering’ opponents for much of last season. His hold-up play has always been cat, but he always compensated with his whole ‘running at the goal and smashing the ball’ routine. Now though he’s struggling to even do that. Whether that’s because of Everton using him slightly differently, his own lack of confidence or opponents dropping deeper quicker to deny him the grass to gallop into, well, who knows? The top and bottom of it though is that our record signing seems to spend a lot more time waving his gloves in the air, demanding balls off the fullback that he’s never going to receive – and only loses when he does – than having shots on goal.
It’s a concern.
Samuel Eto’o has chipped in with a few goals, most notably at Burnley when only the post denied him a hat-trick, but the relatively decent form of the Cameroonian seems to be giving Martinez a few headaches. It’s a lot to ask the veteran to play up front on his own but dropping him in behind Lukaku then creates problems with Steven Naismith – Everton’s most consistent attacker this season – and Ross Barkley, another who is also struggling to make as big an impact as everyone wants.
Kevin Mirallas can’t come back soon enough, quite frankly – his pace and just all-round direct threat is exactly what is missing from a forward line that too often seems content to shuffle the ball agonisingly among themselves before leaving all the responsibility for beating players and getting behind the opponents to the criminally over-worked fullbacks.
After their distinctly minty start to the season the defence has coped reasonably without the injured John Stones, and it’s credit to the cold-shouldered Sylvain Distin that he still appears to be giving his all since returning in place of Antolin Alcaraz who is probably just ‘feeling a bit goosed gaffer’ after playing so many matches.
James McCarthy has gone from strength to strength in central midfield and will have to take on even more responsibility while we wait for the frankly marvellous Gareth Barry to recover from the ankle injury sustained at Sunderland. Mohamed Besic would seem the obvious replacement but in all honesty the Bosnian has been a bit of a disappointment. For an international footballer he seems lacking in personality and presence – it’s almost as if he’s never recovered from that mistake against Chelsea and seems terrified of demanding the ball and trying to impose himself on the game. Hopefully if Barry is out for a while the bad-tatted ‘one of the kids off Once Upon a Time in America-looking’ schemer will benefit from a run in the side and start playing with a bit of belief.
Talking of injured players, do you know that film about the girl who died in a flat in London and no one even noticed for something like three years? Do you always think about that when anyone mentions Arouna Kone?
You will now.
The imaginary Ivorian is no longer a month away from return – he is instead linked with a return to Levante, a side named after an imaginary number in Royston Vasey. He’s not the only chap with Everton connections who could be ‘plying his trade’ – something that’s only really done by footballers and brasses these days – in Spain, as David Moyes has taken up the rather unlikely position of head coach at Real Sociedad. In fairness, when the next best runner in the race is that weird West Brom fella you have to stand a decent chance of getting the job, but it does seem an odd fit.
It will certainly be interesting to see how he gets on at a smaller club in a competition that makes the Premier League look like some crypto-Corinthian Socialist utopia. And you can bet a pound to a pinch of Piz Buin that the Guardian Sports section are already planning a big Sid Lowe exclusive using lots of references to how the former United boss is ‘relaxed’, ‘loving the lifestyle’ and ‘falling back in love with the game’. The centre-piece will be a picture of Moyes wearing a Blue Harbour linen jacket, sat behind his desk in an airy office overlooking the ‘immaculate training pitches’. Three months before he falls out with the chairman and gets the bullet after a home defeat by Oviedo that Marca reports ‘sees the fans, in a cruel take on the tradition of waving white handkerchiefs, instead wear them knotted upon their heads’.
Hopefully it works out for him though.