So Long Without You

‘I like Abdoulaye Doucoure as well, but not as much as you Allan.’

‘Haha. Very good. How you say in English – Glen get lippy, Glen get sacked. A ha!’

Toward the end of last season, the ‘always immaculate’ (a great phrase used solely by arl ones) Carlo Ancelotti’s cashmere collar got increasingly crumpled and he began to look a bit sweaty, with stray hair flopping across his brow. In his post-match interviews he began to resemble Gregory Peck, interrupted by a knock on the door while beating his wife in the hall. 

Everton will do that to a man. 

Since those brooding afternoons at Goodison and Molyneux, the supposedly laid-back and easygoing Italian has clearly taken to heart the advice in the ghostly whispers from the terraces. The ones that said, ‘Fuck that whole midfield off. They’re all shite, Carlo……Lad.’

They were appalling to a man – to the point that the defenders and the strikers almost get a free ride because it’s hard to judge them given the lack of protection and service they got from an engine room that wasn’t so much misfiring as missing altogether, like the car I once I saw a gang of travellers tow to a garage opposite work and then insist ‘it had a fucking engine in it when we dropped it here’ a couple of hours later. 

With hilarious results.

The fact that the midfield looked better when Mason Holgate played there said everything about the lack of energy and aggression displayed by the usual incumbents. Since his injury, Andre Gomes has looked a heavy-legged shadow of the fella who made the game look so easy during the opening stanza of his Goodison career. It was sad to see such an elegant and likeable player only a wrecked petrol station away from going full Darron Gibson.

Much ire gets directed at Tom Davies also. And that was mainly because he was absolutely shite. There’s an old adage that local lads get more criticism than those imported from elsewhere, and it’s probably true. Is it that unfair though? After all, they are meant to know more than anyone else what the games mean to the supporters. If you’ve come through the ranks you will be lauded when things are going well – held up as ‘our representative’ out on the pitch. But the price for that is you’re expected to sweat blood – or appear to sweat blood – when things aren’t going Everton’s way. 

There are clearly questions over Davies’ talent at Premier League level – exactly ‘what it is he does’ and all that. Now expressing his ability certainly can’t be easy in such a disjointed team, but in the meantime he needed to set an example in terms of effort. Only he can ever know whether he really did.

Can you be arsed going through the rest? Much has been made of the fact that the players have been bought by successive well-backed managers, and so they don’t fit a cohesive style. Players can play though, regardless of how you position counters on a whiteboard. What seems more evident is that the quality of many of them doesn’t match the money spent on them – or ‘spunked’, to use the boardroom vernacular – and that you have about three ‘waves’ of players who know that they didn’t really feature in the long-term plans of the manager-before-last, never mind this one.

That just seems like a recipe for apathy, cynicism and the proverbial ‘broken dressing room’. And you saw that in the performances of the likes of Gylffi Sigurdsson, fulfilling his contractual obligations, because turning up and playing is his job – and he is ‘professional’ – but no longer seeming like he had anything like his heart and soul in the game. 

Changes were definitely required. Even though you’d never heard of Allan before we were linked, the fact that Ancelotti seems so keen on the little Brazilian, and that Atletico Madrid were also interested, makes you think that he must have something. Diego Simeone doesn’t really suffer strollers in his teams, so there’s high hopes that Allan will improve a midfield that presently has about as much bite as that video of the turtle eating a piece of dragon fruit that keeps plaguing you on Youtube.

Doucoure always looked decent for Watford too. He certainly runs about loads and is a big unit. Again, he certainly brings something different – and presumably better – than what we currently have.

The third, and most intriguing, is James ‘pronounce it however you like’ Rodriguez. He’s certainly a ‘big name’ and he’s been turning out for some decent clubs recently in Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. You have to kind of assume then that he is a really good player. The other intangibles, such as attitude, etc. well that’s Ancelotti’s job to make judgements on those factors, and reportedly Rodriguez has played his best football under the Italian in both Madrid and Munich. 

Allan’s signed now and the other two are apparently imminent – just like the first game of the new season. It’s just an absolute shame that we’re not heading to Goodison to get a first glimpse of them in a fortnight. A sunny day, the sirens, and the announcer imploring us to give a big Goodison welcome to Hammmmmmmmerzzzzz Rodriguezzzzzzz. 

If only.

The notion that games will be played but not televised seems bizarre and just encouraging wholesale piracy. Avoiding the score until the extended highlights are on Sky will become the national pastime. Poor dogs across the country who thought getting dragged out for hours finished with the end of lockdown will be cowering behind the couch on a Saturday afternoon. 

Either that or we will all be gathering around the wireless again – which maybe isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Five things to look forward to in the new season:

  1. Ancelotti looking like he’s going to Tommy Frosts wearing patent leather slip-ons in that awful navy and pink Hummel tracky.
  2. Continued question marks about Lucas Digne because he once got pushed off the ball by major juice-bomb Adama Traore.
  3. Absolute iron girder if there’s some sort of lottery when they do reduced attendances. Lifelong friendships over, family feuds, the works. ‘Good afternoon Everton Football Club ticket office how can I help you today?’ ‘FUCKING FULHAM?!’
  4. ‘Pickford could have done better for that one.’
  5. The Second Coming of Yannick Bolasie.

Thanks for reading this far.

Keep slithering like a cobra.

One thought on “So Long Without You

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