Oh you tricky Blues, oh you tricky Blues, you’re driving your mamas and papas insane.
We’re almost halfway through the season now and we’re still waiting for the Toffees to take shape and turn on the style. Thankfully they had enough about them against Rangers, who are worse at leaving home than Howard Hughes, to get a win that notably took them above Liverpool and left them only two points behind one of this season’s comparative success stories, Newcastle United. Indeed, a win at St. Mary’s on Saturday will take us within two points of Veruca Salt-looking Ronald Koeman’s high-flying Southampton.
Granted, there’s a fair few ifs and buts there, but you get the script: there’s still plenty to play for and if we can hit a decent run of form in the second half of the season we could feasibly still have half a go at finishing in the top four.
What? It could happen.
And if it doesn’t, we’ve always got the Europa League, with an interesting trip to Berne’s Young Boys in the next round. Paying over the odds for your Toblerones is certainly preferable to getting legged all around Istanbul.
‘Shut up about your famous night here, you pigs. We were cleaning up lakes of piss up for a fortnight!’
The mark of Everton’s form in Europe so far was the fact that they were able to play so many reserves and youngsters in the dead rubber against Krasnodar. It was interesting to see the the experienced central defenders, Gareth Barry and Antolin Alcaraz, trust Ryan Ledson when he dropped deep to take the ball off them, and Luke Garbutt once again showed that he has the makings of a class act. Unfortunately though the Russian team was full-strength and it showed as they were just that bit more fluid, decisive and physically stronger.
They also didn’t have Joel Robles in goal. In the Spaniard’s defence, he’s never had a run of game to ‘play himself in’, but the mere fact that he always looks like he’s going to something mental every time he does appear probably means that he never will get that opportunity.
Against Krasnodar Robles made Tim Howard look like Lev Yashin as he came out and tried to cover a through-ball like Bernard Breslaw ushering a toddler into Asda. He got his angles wrong and the Krasnodar forward casually rolled the ball into the massive gap at the near post in a manner normally only seen when the whistle’s already gone for offside.
The usual Goodison doubt-clouds then gathered on Monday night ahead of the arrival of Harry’s Hoops, given that they had lost every one of their away games so far this season. They were given plenty of encouragement in the drab opening stages of the game too, until Ross Barkley, part of a youthful central midfield partnership alongside the positively ‘tigerish’ Muhamed Besic, surged forward, ignored a pass to Romelu Lukaku, who was doing his ‘matador with the invisible cape’ thing with his arms, and cut to the left of the Rangers’ box. At first it looked as if the chance had gone as he shaped to shoot – his weight looked distributed for nothing but an absolute Bullens-botherer – but the dig with his ‘wrong’ foot was absolutely savage and true. A slight nick off a defender helped keep it inside the post but still it was a thing of violent poetry. Or a good goal, if you prefer.
Kevin Mirallas then doubled the lead with a massively deflected free-kick that gave Robert Green no chance. The Belgian is starting to find his top form again, so it was horrible watching him stretchered off following Jordon ‘toowoze’ Mutch’s clammy tackle that looked like it smelt of pubs and Wormwood Scrubs. Thankfully though it appears that Mirallas won’t need a Pistorious limb and is in fact in line to play again at the weekend.
Steven Naismith headed the third, before Bobby Zamora’s consolation goal, and further good news for the Blues is that the Scotland centre-forward is about to sign, or indeed has signed, a new three-year deal. We’ve said it loads of times now, but it maybe bears repeating, that Naismith’s transformation and development from the player who David Moyes signed on a free transfer, and who seemed a nice lad but really limited, to the one now who is absolutely integral to the way Robert Martinez’s team play, is nothing short of incredible. He’s gone from struggling, stuck out on the wing, to nailing down the ‘number 10 position’ ahead of Barkley and Samuel Eto’o. Not bad for a fella who isn’t that quick, strong or dazzlingly skilful.
Everybody loves Steven Naismith.
Finally, you can’t really talk about the QPR game without mentioning the booing. In true Live at the Palladium with Michael McIntyre style, you know, what’s all that about? It’s clearly a ‘thing’ now, like shouting ‘shoooooot’ at Phil Neville, but just more embarrassing. There’s not even any point in arguing against it, because it is just so downright Nihilistic. How can you reason with madness?
‘Get it forward, get it forwa…Roberto had a dream…hit it long, hit it long…shoot, just hit it…the School of Science, it’s on it’s way back!’