Like a Mirror Loves a Hammer

Something something something about it being fitting that it was Virgil van Dyke’s former club something something something.

The changes to Everton’s team, enforced by injury and idiocy, had a genuine impact against a compact and more than competent Southampton team who thoroughly deserved their win. 

Replacing the relentless attacking of Seamus Coleman would be a tough task for any experienced fullback, never mind a young centre-half making his first start* for his new club. For all Ben Godfrey’s honest endeavour he offered nothing like the threat of the Irishman. That’s a big miss in its own right, but it also reduced the opportunities for James Rodriguez who, without the option of the quick through-ball for Coleman, found himself quickly crowded out whenever he gathered possession and had to pause to study his options. 

Similarly Alex Iwobi carries none of the direct-running threat of Richarlison. As a result, attacks down either wing were just more predictable than we’ve become used to, and the Saints found it relatively easy to crowd the near post and cut out the workaday crosses that resulted on the few occasions the Toffees managed to work the ball out wide. 

At its best, this Ancelotti Everton has looked like a finely engineered timepiece. At St. Mary’s it was if some tight-arse had stuck a Timpsons strap on it.

How do you pronounce Southampton manager’s name, by the way? The commentators often sounded like they are eating a hot roastie as they try to say big Ralf’s surname. 

It’s becoming the new Sporting Gijon.

Horrible little Dunlop-Green-Flash-with-his-half-mast-school-kecks James Ward-Prowse smashed the angled opener past Jordan Pickford halfway through the first period before Che Adams repeated the feat 10 minutes later.

Gylfi Sigurdsson struck the crossbar with a wicked shot but that was more or less the extent of Everton’s threat – unless they had loads of chances in the last 20 minutes but presumably you turned it off too, furious, when Lucas Digne got a straight red for stepping on Kyle Walker-Peters’ ankle?

Something about getting away with one last week so we have no right to complain something something something.

It was a very ‘last season’ performance, and more than anything just underlined how important those missing players are. It’s no wonder that Richarlison Is frequently linked with moves to Big Picture clubs – and there’s simply no like-for-like replacement in the squad. No one would be surprised to see Antony Gordon given the nod against Newcastle this week – he had a go when he came on at St Marys, and while nowhere near Richarlison’s level – not yet anyway – at least he’s in the same sort of mould. 

Ancelotti, the squad-whisperer, presumably wanted to give the Iwobi, the senior player, first crack at it, but the Nigerian international has just never really looked comfortable since that weird deadline day move. Sigurdsson without the sporadic blammers, he’s another who looks like he gets on with everyone and ‘trains well’, but to progress as a club we really need to be moving away from these what’s-his-best-position-you-really-need-to-build-a-team-around-him merchants. It’s hard not to feel for Iwobi though – so far at least it just seems like this has been a misjudged move all round. No one will be surprised when he’s eventually loaned to Fulham.

Talking of players and positions – listening to commentators and pundits nowadays, it definitely seems like what we need, and indeed everybody needs, so we definitely want one, is someone who can break the lines. And probably just as vital would be someone to explain what that actually means. 

It just seems odd that the TV and newspaper experts also say that breaking the lines (what lines?) is a key component to any performance, but never, ever, during a game itself have you ever heard anyone say, ‘Miguel Almiron just broke the line there, nice, and now a pass inside to Saint-Maximin.’ Or ‘Ooh, nice line-break from Tielemans – snapped it right in half he did. Have that you fucking fucker.’

And what happened to playing between the lines? That was all the rage last season, and now all of a sudden we’re meant to be cleaving them asunder.

If you didn’t know any better you would say that they are all chatting absolute shit.

This week’s recommendation, Calm With Horses on Netflix. Based on a short story by Colin Barrett  from his collection, Young Skins, set in the bleakly beautiful County Clare, it’s very violent but has far more going for it than the overplayed small-town villains theme might suggest. 

A review of the book to follow at some point. Bet you can’t wait.

  • Yeah, yeah I know, eagle eyes.

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