Everton at home. We all turn up. Romelu Lukaku scores. The Toffees take all the points. You know the dance by now.
On a lousy day, with the weather wetter than an otter’s pocket, no one fancies a side packed with massive bastards fighting relegation. Especially one that’s been buoyed by the arrival of a new manager. There’s definitely more than a whiff of the smooth, continental Phil Brown about Marco Silva – although Phil Brown would argue that that’s Phil Brown – with his straight-to-video generic action film villain looks, but you have to give him credit, he’s arrived from the Greek league straight into a bit of a barmpot club, in what isn’t always an easy league to adapt to, and he’s completely understood the challenges Hull face and made his mark immediately. For someone who has only been managing for just over five years that is hugely impressive.
His team looked half-decent too – particularly the left-back Andrew Robertson, we missed a trick there – especially when compared to West Brom last week, whose football was about as much fun as being sat down and told that we just don’t know for certain, modern medicine, especially stem cell research, is making giant leaps all the time.
Alright, it’s not quite that bad. They were terrible though.
Anyway, Hull had a go throughout the game, despite going behind on nine minutes to a first Premier League goal for surprise starter Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Ross Barkley – again superb throughout with his clever use of the ball against an often packed defence – kidded the whole ground by shaping to spread a pass to Seamus Coleman before slipping a straighter ball into the channel (channel!) for Tom Davies. Davies, who is not the Messiah, he just looks like him, produced a low cross that was more dangerous than a paedophile pitbull with a broken bottle.
And a right cob on.
Thankfully, Calvert-Lewin ignored all that and tucked the ball home at the far post.
He might have ‘doubled his tally’ as well – or ‘scored another goal’ even – with a couple of far post headers that failed to trouble Eldin Jakupović. Ronald Koeman seems to really rate Calvert-Lewin, as he throws him in at every opportunity, despite the fact that he still looks a little bit leggy and sort of naive at this level. Maybe the direct-talking Dutchman – he likes to call a spade a shpade – sees the young striker as a really quick learner who has outgrown the reserves though; someone who needs greater challenges in order to keep developing. It’s certainly a bold move to keep including him in the first team, and perhaps one that will really reap rewards next season.
The visitors were energetic and tried to be positive when they could, but this Everton midfield, especially before the withdrawal of Morgan Schneiderlin with a calf injury, looks heartbreaking to play against, such is their ability to hold and regain the ball.
Idrissa Gueye in particular is just ridiculous, the way he seems to take the opposition’s possession as a personal slight. For the likes of big cuddly Tom Huddlestone and his playground headlock haircut, trying to express yourself in the middle of the pitch when up against the Senegalese sensation must feel like being locked in the airing cupboard with a crocodile. No matter how you try and manoeuvre to try and get comfortable you either end up with a burnt arse or a chunk taken out of your leg.
Silva threw on alleged one-time Everton target Kamil Grosicki in the second half, as everyone in the ground felt that a point was within the visitors grasp thanks to the Blues’ inability to capitalise on their control. However, a clumsy tackle by Huddlestone on Gueye saw the portly pass-master rather harshly red-carded with quarter of an hour to go.
Inevitably – well, we can say that now, it wasn’t so clear cut at the time – the Toffees then capitalised on that numerical advantage.
We should know by now that generally it’s unwise to question Keoman’s substitutions – he brought on Ramiro Funes Mori who almost scored with his first touch – and then Calvert Lewin’s replacement, the ‘enigmatic’ Enner Valencia, played a one-two with Lukaku, chesting down the Belgian’s chipped return and ramming his shot into the bottom corner of the Gwladys Street goal.
We all wondered about the crowd’s reaction to Lukaku before this game, given the contract nonsense in the media this week, but it seems like Evertonians have just got wise to the whole sketch these days. Contracts are between the players and their employers – our relationship with the team is for the time between the whistles. If they fulfil their obligations during that period then that’s all that really matters. If you’re going to ‘fall out’ with your decent players towards the end of their contracts, when the negotiations with the club are taking place, then you might as well just cut to the chase and hate them all from the outset.
In short, no one really seemed that arsed, and Lukaku held up his end of the deal by scoring twice in injury time. The first saw him played in by Valencia, to finish calmly past the exposed Jakupović. The second was the result of a disastrous backpass – Everton’s high pressure game has forced a few of these recently – when Lukaku’s quick feet sent the bemused keeper down the road for a Pink Echo and a loaf before he clipped the ball into the empty net.
Lukaku’s fucking ace. Let’s enjoy him while he’s here, whether that’s just until this summer or for years to come, spearheading our Champions League campaigns at the Usmanov Bramley Dock Dixie Dean Babylon Terrordome-on-Sea.
And so we keep on rolling on. The teams around us all have games in hand, but we’re doing what we do, apparently winning more points in 2017 than anyone else in the top division. The visit to Anfield in a fortnight is obviously a massive test, and you would be more confident if Schneiderlin was available, but – and how many times have we said this? – we go there with a decent chance of beating them.