29 July 2021 (vogue)

There’s more than a hint of the kaftan in the design of Everton’s new third kit, which debuted yesterday.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin models it on the official site, and all you really need to know is that it looks like something he would actually wear.

It’s obviously not a full Everton squad out in Florida, what with the Euros, child sex offences and the Olympics. 

Richarlison is out in Japan – at the Olympics, not touching kids! – and scored another couple of goals against Saudi Arabia, following on from his hat trick in the first match. If there’s some Competitive Dad trophy for the highest scorer in a competition that only Brazil, Argentina and Nigeria ever seem to take seriously, then the moody-mushed goal-getter must be in with a shout. 

‘Back in nets, Toby! 12 nil! Hello darling, yes, yes I did. Four hat tricks.’

It’s kind of endearing that in this cynical age some players want to just go and play for a bit of glory and the experience of being an Olympian. Some miserable bastard is going to tell me it’s more to do with some grubby Brazilian Federation deal with Nike now, aren’t they? I hope it isn’t.

I also hope we see more of Richarlison in an Everton shirt, as the rumours persist that he is more than open to a move away, with that arch-eyebrowed arch-arsehole Carlo Ancelotti hoping to tempt him to Madrid. It still feels we’ve not seen the best of Richarlison; that in a team that’s built around his strengths, consistently getting the ball to him quickly in the opposition’s half, he could be magnificent. You feel he’s going to have a season somewhere where it all clicks and he’s going to be unstoppable. It would be great if that was with the Trickies, but that’s starting to look dubious now.

Anyway, the Blues’ second match was last night against the Pumas (pronounced ‘poomers’), whose most famous player is the one and only Hugo Sanchez, the star of the all-conquering Real Madrid team of the late 80s and early 90s, when a nascent Sky only had Spanish and Italian football. That team was packed with some cracking players, like Bernd Schuster (another Pumas old boy), Michel, and one of my all-time favourites, and one who never really gets mentioned but was just a sensationally silky footballer, Rafael Martin Vasquez.

However, there was just something utterly joyous about little Sanchez’s ‘all-action’ style, and the fact that the commentator used to always mention that he trained as a dentist and his sister was a gymnast. Seriously though, watch some of the goals he scores in the video below. He’s most famous for all the overhead kicks (his sister was a gymnast – it must run in the family!) but some of the absolute blammers are remarkable. A handful look like the goals normally only scored in a Japanese cartoon called something along the lines of Super Monkey Striker Hero Eleven. He hits one free-kick so hard there that the ball turns into a fiery fist and although the robot rhinoceros goalkeeper gets in the way he only tears through the roof of the net and punctures the moon. 

Less well struck was Moise Kean’s first half goal that clinched another win for the sweat-soaked Benitez bandwagon over in Florida.

Demarai Gray slipped a devious through-ball into the Italian’s path and although the Pumas’ keeper stopped the rather predictably shit first attempt, he let it slip under his body and allowed Kean to poke the loose ball home. People keep saying ‘there’s a player in there’ about Kean – and he’s played for Italy, Juventus and PSG (and Everton!) at a young age, so he must have something – but he’s shown very little for Everton to convince anyone that we shouldn’t accept any decent offer that comes in for him. The counter-argument would be that he’s not been given many opportunities, but the onus is on the player to force the manager’s hand on that score. A shame because his whole ‘backstory’ when he arrived at the club had everyone really excited.

In gobshite news, and I really try to avoid this stuff now by swerving social media but it’s in the news and unavoidable, Nigel Farage has managed to paint himself as the victim in a spat with the RNLI. I only watched a bit of the clip but he actually says at one point that ‘broken down yachts are going unattended’ as a result of the lifeboats saving the lives of migrants in the Channel.

How would he have the crews remedy this? Should they pull alongside the overcrowded dinghy and ask for proof of red chinos or ‘cheeky glasses of vino’ before affecting any sort of rescue attempt? Perhaps demand to hear Rudyard Kipling’s If recited, dehydration be damned, before throwing down the rope ladder?

And the RNLI showing evidence of the tragedy that’s unfolding? ‘PR’ according to Farage, the real hero of the piece.

What’s most disappointing is that this stuff isn’t even considered outrageous any more. It’s just grist to the mill, everyday fascism that’s now an accepted part of the public debate. And the longer they spew it out, and the longer it stretches the parameters of what’s acceptable, the easier it is for people to eventually start thinking, ‘do you know, they actually do make reasonable points there,’ and bit by bit the whole atmosphere in the country just gets even more mean-spirited and less empathetic.

Rafa wouldn’t let kids drown.