So here we go again.
This time without the broad brush strokes of Ronald Koeman or the dull monochrome of Sam Allardyce – replacing both with Marco Silva’s much-vaunted ‘attention to detail’.
The gimlet-eyed Portuguese has picked up on loads of little things already – those tiny percentages, the aggregated marginal gains and subtle nuances that could provide the difference between failure and glory.
‘Bolasie is shite’, for instance.
Or ‘we really need some fucking defenders here.’
The preseason games saw us get roundly ragged by everyone apart from that Austrian special school second XI, and prompted the annual ‘do these games really matter?’ debates. It’s some sort of perverse gospel now that if Everton were to actually batter everyone they played, including the one decent side they always face in the deflating ‘prestige’ final friendly at Goodison, then it would portent doom for the coming season.
‘We’re always shite preseason’ would hold more weight if it wasn’t for the fact that we’re almost always shite during ‘season’ too.
‘But these games are just for fitness.’
Alright, sound, but how come Blackburn’s fatties are smashing the Granny out of our fatties?
But wait, what’s this? A positively reassuring draw on the opening day, away to sexy upstarts Wolverhampton Wanders. It might have been completely different too if Phil Jagielka had not mis-controlled a simple ball and caught the ankle of his opponent in an attempt to win possession back.
It was never a straight red card. You see them given, and they’re wrong. You can dissect these challenges and slow them down, whatever you like – but generally you know instinctively if you’ve seen a shocker or not. And that wasn’t.
Ruben Neves then scored from the free-kick, drawing the home side level. The Toffees had taken the lead when Richarlison ‘opened his account’ with his first of a brace – stabbing home from close range following Leighton Baines’ deep free kick.
The Brazilian, has attracted an undue amount of attention in the media because of his price tag. That just seems weird given the amount we spent on mediocrity last summer – and indeed what we spent on absolute shite – never mind what other clubs have been ejaculating up the Anaglypta lately. Anyway, he restored the lead in the second half, finishing off a slick move down the left by curling an unstoppable low shot past the unfeasibly neat-bearded Rui ‘Rylan’ Patricio.
Despite great defending in the most part, and consistently offering a threat – let’s face it, Silva’s predecessor would have told the back four to drop to about Cannock once in the lead – the Toffees had to settle for a point thanks to a late far-post header from Raul Jimenez.
Yeah, that’s great, but what’s the message?
So, on to the first home game. and the first win of the Silva ‘era’. Let’s hope it’s an ‘era’, anyway. We’ve all had milk that’s lasted longer than some of Silva’s jobs, but it’s good that even after two games all the talk of him being ‘the fucker who took Hull down’ etc. seems consigned to history.
If anything you are starting to think, ‘Shit, if Pocchetino goes to United…’
Basically, you can see already that Silva knows what he’s doing. Under the last two self-serving cranks, and particularly the last lip-smacking clown, everything just felt off-kilter – even the simplest things appeared to be hard work for the players.
It looked like Everton, but it just wasn’t. Like when Amelie messes with the mind of her horrible landlord by slightly altering little things in his flat every day.
Now it’s clearly early days, but already things just feel right.
All the decisions, around the composition of the squad and the approach to the games, seem logical. Like they’re being made by someone who wants Everton to do well and for the supporters to actually enjoy going the match.
The performance against Southampton wasn’t perfect – particularly the defending for their goal – but overall the Toffees took the game to the opposition, played some great stuff and looked like scoring every time they went forward, particularly in the first half.
Richarlison was again boss, and you suspect that Silva and Marcel Brands actually feel that even though they overpaid, well, they underpaid. Again, it’s only two games, but the young Brazilian exudes – yes, exudes – that air of attacking menace that we’ve lacked since selling Romelu Lukaku.
It’s hard to recall a club administrator who has won so much immediate admiration as Brands, by the way. In fairness, it’s not hard to look suave and, well, competent, following in the footsteps of Farah-kecks, Steve Walsh, but still he comes across like a proper smooth Swiss Tony character.
‘Sealing a transfer is a lot like making love to a beautiful woman. First, you approach her in private and offer her money…’
With Theo Walcott on the opposite wing to Richarlison, the Blues now carry genuine, alarming pace. Searing, even. The way they stretch opponents in those wide areas, it’s crying out for someone to start driving straight down the middle to take advantage of the massive gaps they create.
Maybe Andre Gomes might be that sort of player. He’s just one of the sexy signings we made that are yet to really figure. We’ve still got the prospect of him, Lucas ‘Hazel’ Digne, jockey-looking Brazilian schemer Bernard, Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma, and of course World Cup centre-half Yerry Mina.
To be honest, the latter looked a bit of a Matterazi-esque penalty waiting to happen during the summer tournament, but as ever we reserve judgement until we see him in royal blue. Incidentally, the first time he nods in a corner, be sure to listen the lone Michael McDonald impersonator in the Park End who has promised to sing:
It’s always a fucker knowing how to finish these, especially when you’ve not done one for ages. Unless of course you are the late, great Anthony Bourdain, who closed a chapter about food critics in his book Medium Raw, with the following bit of pure poetry.