Have you ever eaten at a Harvester before?
That international break is finally done and the transfer window is closed – like in Day of the Dead when they jam a door shut and there’s zombies arms caught in it and all sorts of screaming from the other side from that cheery, fat black lad who couldn’t keep up – and so the big show can get under way good and proper now.
Exactly where Everton are set following what was loads of transfer activity, but felt like not quite enough, is difficult to tell. But we’ll try anyway, otherwise this would be a remarkably short piece.
It really depends on how the club, and particularly our one-of-the-spoilt-kids-from-Charlie-and-the-Chocolate-Factory-looking manager, view the remodelling of the squad. If this summer was the big opportunity to close the gap on sixth, and all that, then the lack of a talismanic centre-forward; a focal point that would lend this squad some real identity – Olivier Giroud, basically – represents a shortfall.
However, if there’s more of a long-term plan in place, and you wouldn’t be surprised if the famously impatient Koeman and, say, Steve Walsh, don’t see exactly eye-to-eye on that, then they could argue that the summer’s dealings have laid some solid foundations in terms of sorting out the goalkeeper as well as strengthening the midfield. The next ‘phase’ would involve more cover in defence and, as stated endlessly, some big cunt up front.
The fact that they never panicked and brought in any of the lanky horrors we were linked to from around Europe did give the impression that, just maybe, there is some sort of plan in place. Either that or we just never completed a deal for Khouma Babacar or Raul Jimenez because we were waiting on the money from the Ross Barkley transfer that fell through when he pretended to go the bog at ‘Chelsea’s Cobham training ground’ before climbing out of a window and then, watched by the dumbfounded coaches and medical staff, legged across all the misty training pitches with his suit tails flapping, straight through kids’ games, shoving one referee to the turf, until he was nothing but a panting speck in the distance.
As we always like to say in these instances, ‘something’s definitely gone on there’. Barkley must have a very clear vision of where he sees his future if he’s got the luxury of turning down a move to the champions, although it did do a massive favour for Danny Drinkwater who, while Barkley was having his plums felt by the doctor, was by all accounts smashing Budweiser bottles in the car park and peeling off his shoes to demonstrate just how keen he was on a transfer to ‘the Bridge’.
All indications are that Barkley prefers Tottenham, and presumably they want him as well. Daniel Levy famously wouldn’t give you the steam off his shite, so he maybe didn’t want to pay the wages of an injured player when he could let Everton cover them instead, while all the time his transfer value plummets, thankyou very much.
Are the Toffees obliged to provide rehab and medical facilities to basically benefit another side in January?
The way the easily riled Ronny ‘Pickering’ Koeman operates, Barkley shouldn’t be surprised to turn up at Finch Farm to find his undies, towel and photos cut from Nuts piled up in the corner of the changies as Oumar Niasse proudly puts his can of Lynx, his massive back scrubber and his pink rubber shower cap in his new locker.
‘I thought Wayne Rooney had more chance of being allowed to sleep back in the big bed than me getting back in the squad,’ Niasse never said. ‘So this just shows that anything is possible.’
You can’t really see Niasse getting a game though – if he does then it will be something of an indictment of Sandro Ramirez. The young Spaniard had a nightmare against Chelsea – although as matches to return from injury in, that was pretty much the worst one you could have picked for him. Everton were fucking terrible – and certainly not helped by the midweek games in Manchester and Croatia – and Chelsea are still pretty good. Ramirez needs a run of games – and possibly to calm down a bit and be a bit more selective when choosing which lost cause to chase down. Tom Davies sometimes looks similar – like he’s under orders to almost sacrifice his footballing ability on the altar of the all-consuming ‘high press’.
So then, all that was written before the Spurs game, in which the Blues were again hopeless – beyond hopeless in fact – and posed almost no threat whatsoever, courtesy of an attack that, shorn of the power and pace of Romelu Lukaku, has become more pedestrianised than Norwich city centre.
‘Stodgy’ is the word that always comes to mind when watching this latest incarnation of the Toffees. Or ‘shite’, obviously, but that’s more of an all-encompassing label as opposed to a description of the particular shade of cack on show.
The question that springs to mind – other than ‘is Davy Klaassen playing?’ – is what’s the point of desperately hunting the ball down if you’re not set up to do anything with the fucking thing when you get it? How Idrissa Gueye manages to keep up his level of endeavour, constantly nicking the ball of the opposition, when we just give it back the moment we try to do anything vaguely creative, is testament to his attitude. Even he’s going to get fed up soon though if there are many more afternoons like this. And with a trip to Old Trafford on the horizon – as well as a journey into the unknown at Atalanta – there’s no prospect of a respite in store just yet.
Anyone can get gubbed by the two best teams in the league, although the meek manner of Everton’s capitulation on both occasions was disappointing to say the least. What’s more concerning is that after padding the squad out this summer, Koeman seems to have little conviction in his team selections, and his whole demeanour – or the way it’s being interpreted anyway – seems to a have a bit of that resigned ‘late era Moyes’ about it. Almost ‘what do you expect me to do this lot?’
Feel free to sound the speculation klaxon like, but when you see the team look so inhibited on the pitch, it really is easy to start wondering whether that all starts with attitude of the huffing and puffing Dutchman.
Against Tottenham every area of the team looked poor, but it all seems to start with the lack of any attacking outlet. We always love a boxing analogy – in fact it’s usually the same one every time – but our lack of any punch was akin to McGregor v Mayweather in that Spurs could simply march forward, unconcerned about what was coming back their way, until the inevitable happened.
If we lack a big unit up front we at least need to have some pace instead. Again though, none of the options are convincing, at last not to ‘Cob On’ Koeman anyway. Kevin Mirallas is crying over a move to Greece that fell through, while a number of others look too good for the kids’ teams but perhaps not ready to perform consistently every week in the Premier League meat grinder.
In short then, the conclusion would seem to be that the recruitment was indeed badly lacking in the summer. January’s always regarded as a bad time to rectify your problems too – selling clubs know you are as desperate as Chabadi G chatting up young mums in Babies R Us – and even more pointedly, prior to the window opening there are loads of games we still need to navigate with this lopsided squad we have put together.
Trying to look on the bright side though, this has been a horrific clump of fixtures that would have been taxing for even the most established teams, so it was always going to be challenging for a completely revamped squad. Maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising then that its deficiencies and the areas that need improvement have been quite ruthlessly exposed.
Recent history has shown us though that it pays to just fucking hold your counsel a little bit after a few bad results. Don’t just jump to the conclusion that everything is fucked, it’s not redeemable and we need to rip everything up and start again. When you have a squad of decent players – and on the whole we do – then a bit of patience often pays dividends. You can then put that down to hard work and dedication on the training ground – or simply just waiting for a run of games against shittier opposition. The narrative is all yours.
Because, you know, as the old saying goes: that bang on the head might not actually be the sky falling in – it might just be some scruffy twat throwing an empty can of Tennents off a flyover.
Makes you think, doesn’t it.