Hey, how goes it? Can we call you ‘buddy’? Or ‘bud’, even?
We don’t even mind if you say ‘not three bad’, because it’s been a while.
The last time we had one of our chats we thought we were going to sign Andriy Yarmalenko, John Stones was still a ‘fucking rat’, and Ramiro Funes Mori sounded like a Spanish subtitle on Goodfellas.
So what happened?
Well, life happened. And Everton happened.
As they tend to.
Another aeroplane flew over Goodison declaring the end of days, but once again the Toffees played great, this time against champions Chelsea, and scored three goals, leaving the average punter to turn to the protestors and say, in the words of Keith Lemon: ‘Yeah, I get that. But what’s the message?’
Because nothing’s cut and dried any more, not even that most conservative of get-togethers, the Premier League. It’s like the whole thing has been cast in the image of the Super Blues so far this season, with everyone capable of great greatness one week and then playing like utter crack-fluff the next.
So what’s changed? Well, on the face of it, the Great Mammon was meant to be absolute damnation of the English game but it’s ended up being the saviour, of the top flight at least.
The Premier League used to be a two horse race at best, with the rest just hoping to stay up and avoid bankruptcy by grinding results at home and then hoping to nick points by packing their defence away at the grounds of their overlords. Now though, with the wazzo telly deal, even the most humble of also-rans can tell the vultures to get fucked when they come calling for their best players. They can also strengthen a bit too, with some decent new gadgies from around the world. And as a result it seems that most teams have chosen attack – or at least counter-attack – as the best form of defence, making the whole competition the most open and unpredictable it’s been since even before Liverpool used to back-pass to victory every season.
Ticket prices are still bonkers – but you could even imagine the suits arguing that’s ‘justified’ given the quality of the ‘product’ at present – but other than that what can you complain about?
Apart from the Chang. We just take that as read.
The last game, at the Hawthorns, is a case in point. Everton, terrified of exposing an incredibly callow back four, offered nothing going forward for almost an hour. They were trailing 2-0 against a frighteningly average Tony Pulis team and then biffo, £28 million centre-forward Romelu Lukaku heads home a cross by one of Spain’s most gifted youngsters and one-time ‘new Messi’, and suddenly the comeback’s on.
Roberto Martinez sent on the born-again Arouna Kone and Darron Gibson – with instructions to pass the ball better than he passes cyclists and petrol pumps (and the offy) – and then Everton absolutely panelled the Baggies. Kone equalised, beating the offside trap and then the keeper like the proper centre-forward he is, before Lukaka capped the evening off, inadvertently controlling yet another delicious Gerard Deulofeu cross with his hand before stabbing home the winner in the dying minutes.
And that all brings us tumbling pell mell into the derby on Sunday.
A lifetime of horror shows against these has taught us to never take anything for granted, clearly. However, it’s also worth noting that in most of the time that they’ve had the whip hand they have legitimately had the better players on the whole. If it’s not been the better total team then they have at least had extraordinary individuals – let’s face it, Steven Gerrard, and to a lesser extent the likes of Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres – who have given them the edge. Now their hopes are pinned on who? Daniel Sturridge?
He’s decent, but you wouldn’t swap him for Lukaku. And after that?
They might beat us – we’ve already seen that nothing can be taken for granted this season – but fucking hell, you’d be crackers to lose a minute’s sleep over them. Years ago you had to hope that you outfought them, got a bit of luck, took your chances and that the goalie played a blinder. Only then could you dare to dream that the referee just might not fuck you over.
To turn over the latest ragbag collection though, and outwit Brendan Rodgers, the Singing Defective? Just play as we know we can against the best sides in the division, never mind the achingly mediocre ones.
So stop crying it in.
They are shite.