Everybody up in the place, let’s go.
Everton are back and doing what they do best. Looking dead ordinary against limited opposition and eliciting boos from the crowd less than an hour into the new season.
Much has been made of the complete lack of signings – Tom Cleverley and Gerard Deulofeu don’t appear to count – but it took some chin-stroking it-will-sound-dead-insightful-if-I-preface-it-with-‘for me’ banter-merchant on The Football Ramble podcast to point out that the Blues have not been helped by a skip-full of injuries. Still, you’d expect better from the squad packed full of international footballers than we witnessed on the opening day.
Arouna Kone was the only bright spark on a grotty afternoon, laying the ball off to Ross Barkley for his thraker of a shot and then anticipating Romelu Lukaku’s touch like a proper centre-forward before drilling home a Lineker-like equaliser.
The Blues looked far more effective with a traditional strike partner for Lukaku as opposed to Barkley shoe-horned into that Nigel Clough/Nick Barmby ‘position’ that has been a real poser for Everton ever since Tim Cahill first ‘arrived late’ and ‘hung in the air’ to score in a blue shirt. In theory, your ‘number 10’ – number 10, for fuck’s sake – should be the most complete footballer on the pitch, such is his responsibility for making space and supplying the passes for the out-and-out goalscorer. It’s almost certainly not meant to be where you just stick the extra midfielder in an attempt to try and hide the fact that you don’t really trust him completely. Fucking hell, remember when Jack Rodwell got shoved there for a while?
Kone or Steven Naismith would surely be more comfortable alongside or ‘just behind’ Lukaku – because positions are really that static in football – than Barkley, who needs to replace either James McCarthy or Gareth Barry if he’s good enough, or start on the bench if he isn’t.
And all that’s before we even start on Tom Cleverley, who isn’t a wide attacker, or indeed an attacker of any description, while he’s got a hole in his arse. So unless he’s had some severe colonic surgery, that means he’s really only back up for one of the first-choice defensive midfielders, surely?
It was only the first game of the season though, and the transfer window is still open, so there is plenty of time for Everton to improve and also to add more players to the squad.
Whether this will be enough to appease the growing number of angry flag and banner folk seems dubious, but let’s be honest, the start of the season would have been even duller without them. It’s kind of a footballing lifestyle choice now, the whole protestor thing, a new tribe for a new generation, and it should be embraced. Organising meetings in function rooms, tweeting furiously, sending open letters to the press and hanging up enigmatic banners has got to be seen as more healthy than getting in big gangs and slashing people, and certainly no more weird than standing in the street selling a pamphlet about Everton, pop music and Grange Hill. It’s in fashion at pretty much every club now, and it’s just another way of experiencing the match – it doesn’t really do anyone any harm. If you want to spend your time and money on sky-writing ‘SACK THE BOARD’, well, why not?
Now, we never got around to ‘publishing’ all that in the wake of the Watford game, so by rights we should go back and rewrite it to look cleverer following the rather marvellous performance at St. Mary’s.
But we can’t be arsed.
Resplendent in their Idi Amin Last King of Scotland kit, ‘under pressure Everton’ went to Southampton and executed pretty much the textbook Roberto Martinez performance. In fact, did it not remind you a bit of when Wigan came to Goodison in that cup tie?
A much fitter-looking Lukaku finished off two superb breakaway goals, but he was more than assisted by Kone, who crossed for the first, and Barkley who set up the second and then scored Everton’s third in the final five minutes, curling home another cracker to cap off one of his best games in an Everton shirt. James McCarthy was also incredible as he led by example in terms of energy and aggression, and it was that attitude and desire to win the ball back quickly that allowed the Blues to launch the counter-attacks that ultimately did for their hosts.
Elsewhere, Chelsea were left cowering in the Premier League equivalent of the Lime Street left luggage after their game at Manchester City. Jose Mourinho’s running out of scapegoats and so turned on pretty much the last person left who he hasn’t already blamed for some failing or other, John Terry. And while it’s always great to see the discomfort of those two pricks, you just know that the end result of the whole thing is going to be some sort of wacky bid for John Stones. A shame, because he’s started the season great for us, and you would rather watch him than Ashley Williams, Jonny Evans or some terrifying-sounding fella from River Plate.
We’re also being linked with Andriy Yarmolenko from Dynamo Kiev. According to a badly edited five minute Youtube video he loves doing that daft turn that Marouane Fellaini pulled off once against Craig Bellamy and then tried in every subsequent game until he left, and all manner of other mad flicks and back-heels. It seriously made him look ‘very McGeady’. But you can’t judge him on that. Although we have. Haven’t we?
We’ve got City at the weekend and they have started great. We’ve never really been great respecters of them though, and on the back of how we played on Saturday, and especially with Lukaku looking so dangerous, you would have to believe that we are more than capable of winning. And we wouldn’t have thought that even back at the top of the page, so life can’t be all that bad at the moment, can it?