It’s a results business, football. And results tend to form the prism through which you view your club and, in particular, its manager.
When Roberto Martinez won games he was a man who had a vision and stood firm on his principles, but let a load of late goals in and he was no more than an obstinate zealot.
With the new fella, it’s clear that public opinion is going to swing between the two poles of ‘arrogant-doesn’t-get-the-club-duty-free-merchant’ and a European footballing legend with dead high standards who doesn’t take any pony from anyone. Thankfully, the Ron-o-meter has swung completely over to the right in the wake of two very different but equally satisfying wins against Manchester City and Crystal Palace.
Even that 1970s Lufthansa ground crew coat he insists on wearing is starting to look less minty. Although even worse than sporting one from the club shop is when managers step out in a Bobby Dazzler that their missus has obviously bought them for Christmas. In particular we’re referring to David Moyes’s plush new Moncler number.
‘Go on David, it suits you. And you kept saying how much you liked Drake’s.’
Poor David and his untidy face. He makes Michael Foot look like Tom Ford.
So anyway, after the horrible defeat to Leicester in the FA Cup nobody expected anything from the next game at home to City, especially following Ronald Koeman’s comments regarding players having no future at the club. Like Kinga and the bottle on Big Brother, there’s no going back from that. Chips in, scorched earth, more bridges burnt than the Viet Cong – and yet, amazingly, it appeared to work, provoking a reaction from the whole squad.
Tom Cleverly fucked off, club captain Phil Jagielka dropped, Oumar Niasse told to clear his locker – and then no one listened as he explained, yet again, that he doesn’t have one and he’s been getting changed in the back of his Vauxhall Nova for the last four months – and even crowd favourite Gerard Deulofeu told he can leave, it appears.
Who would question Koeman now though?
Granted, it’s only two games, but the change in attitude is palpable. And bear in mind that these two high-energy performances have come without arguably our most tenacious midfielder, Idrissa Gueye.
Tom Davies has been a revelation and is only going to get better. The best thing about him – apart from the fact that we’ve got another Pyrenex-jacket-hands-down-the-front-of-his-trackies local lad in the team – is that even when he makes a mistake he just shrugs it off and tries harder.
That self-belief is what Ross Barkley always seems to lack, but the change of team formation, allowing him to start deeper, has seen him produce two of his best displays in an Everton shirt. We’ve been banging on about it for ages, but he has to be running onto the ball to get the best out of his talents – that physical power allied to his often exquisite passing. The way he punches the ball into the path of the strikers and it holds up on the turf, like Tony Drago applying a bit of ‘stun-run-through’ at the Crucible, is an absolute delight to behold.
Fuck knows what’s going on with his barnet though, is it just in that awkward intermediate stage while he grows a proper ket wig? Because at the moment it’s like his manager’s – dead horrible and sticky-looking, like he’s just hatched.
Watching the City game highlights over and over has been great this week, and you pick out different things every time. A couple of particular favourites from the last viewing include Duncan Ferguson laughing at Nicolas Otamendi and waving a dismissive hand at him from the bench, like a 19 stone nail-bender of a bouncer when some teenager walking like a broken puppet starts demanding that he ‘come out here and say it to my face without all your mates’. Also, the look of elation on the Tom Davies lookalike in the Canada Goose coat behind Koeman mouthing ‘fucking get in’ to the heavens, and obviously Davies himself being embraced by someone who appeared to be Bob, the killer of Twin Peaks’ Laura Palmer.
Talking of scary bastards, you wouldn’t mess with Michael Hutchence on our bench, would you? Got a bit of a tasty line now, the Blues.
The City game was just the gift that kept giving – that Ademola Lookman is going to be absolutely mustard – and it was fantastic watching the continued meltdown of that monumental crank, ‘Pep’ Guardiola.
You’re not playing Osasuna now, dickhead.
It would have been a big let-down, and pretty much the most Everton thing ever, if we had then travelled to Palace and dipped when honey-glazed-ham-head Allardyce hasn’t won a game since taking over there.
The Blues put on a decent performance though, and despite a couple of scares – most notably headers from Scott Dann and happy-looking sausage, Christian Benteke – were the better side throughout. Wayne Hennessy made some belting saves, but could do nothing when Seamus Coleman burst onto Davies’ through-ball, looked to have taken a heavy touch, but still managed to thrash his shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
Joel Robles made one outstanding save from Dann, and was more or less faultless in both these games. You look at the size of him and his athleticism and he can really look the part. You just always fear he’s going to do something nuts. But is that the same with all keepers now, especially when you see Huge Lloris, for instance, throwing a couple in against City?
Robles is certainly making the most of his latest opportunity. You certainly wouldn’t drop him for Martin Stekelenburg, and if he carries on as he is then you would have to spend real money to get someone in who is a guaranteed marked improvement.
He’s going to implode at Stoke now, isn’t he? And that shaved parting in his hair, like Ramiro Funes Mori’s, just looks weird – like the dog’s belly after it’s been neutered.
More of this sort of stuff though, Blues.
More of this.