Can’t wait for this Sevilla game now, can you?
What a fucking amuse bouche the Ruzemberok game was for that particular tantalising £20 treat!
Good heavens above. Everyone’s been salivating about the new-look Blues side over the summer, with even the normally sceptical journalists and pundits commenting on how we’ve ‘done good business early’ and all that, so we all turned up ready to watch Koeman’s Blues 2.0 put some manners on these overmatched Slovakians.
Instead, it was like when the longstanding cock of the school eventually gets volleyed everywhere by the weird silent kid with the muscles and the muzzy and everyone feels their worldview shift slightly forever.
On Thursday night (ITV4) there was the deafening noise of 35,000 pennies dropping that Everton’s starting line-up compared to last season had Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku swapped out for Davy Klaassen and some fella in a Wayne Rooney suit.
If you use the newspapers’ valuations then that’s about £130 million worth of talent versus £26 million. And it showed.
They were absolutely shit.
Granted, it’s still the summer, but does a month off really make you forget how to play football? What sort of holidays are these characters going on?
There was an improvement when Sandro Ramirez came on in the second half – along with Leighton Baines and Idrissa Gueye he looked like a proper player – and in fairness to Rooney he got on the ball a bit more when he could drop into bigger spaces that compensated for the fact that he got moving like his back wheels were in a swamp.
That right-back from Southampton was absolutely horrific – imagine if Tony Hibbert couldn’t defend; then that. He got ragged by their winger, missed a header in his own box so gratuitously that it actually bamboozled the striker, thankfully, and looked glued to the spot every time a pass went out to him and the crowd were screaming at him to get the ball out of his feet and fucking run.
The one thing you would say for him is that playing as fullback in this present formation looks absolutely thankless. Baines manages to mask it because he is such an exceptional footballer, but the narrow midfield and forward line just makes everything look a bit weird whenever the ball goes out wide. More or less everyone plays that way in the modern game, so there’s obviously some sort of sound reasoning behind it, but it just seems to slow everything down and almost every move ends up with the fullback with the ball at his feet, facing up to a packed defence.
Remember when Baines and Steven Pienaar were playing first-time balls, and the pass and the run did all the work, leaving defenders with dislocated hips as they tried to recover? It just seemed more natural and instinctive than Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cuca Martina looking like they are constantly trying to figure out a greasy Rubik’s Cube on a moonless night.
Apart from that like, it was boss.
On the plus side, they won, courtesy of a deflected Baines strike – he hit it like he was pissed off with the whole shambles too – and a brilliant save from Maarten Stekelenburg, tipping some big defender’s header onto the bar. The return leg is certainly finely balanced then, and Ruzemberok must genuinely fancy their chances.
It really is down to Everton to go there and put things right with the sort of professional performance that reflects all Ronald Koeman’s chat. And to give them some modicum of credit, you wouldn’t be surprised at all if they did step it up in Slovakia and win comfortably.
This is Everton though, and if anyone could go into the first league game of the season after an unprecedented spending streak with the pressure piled on them and the crowd on edge then it is indeed our very own Toffee Titans.
It’s a special club!