31 July 2021 (filler)

‘Head over the ball, Toby. And strike through the target! 14-nil! Sometimes I really do suspect you don’t have the necessary grit. Now go and fetch the ball, second half starts in five minutes.’

Richarlison apparently played well and set up the only goal in Brazil’s Olympic win over Prescot Cables or Saudi Arabia or whoever. 

Back home, Everton continue to be linked with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly. He’s a massive African fella who always seems to be scowling in every photo so it seems to be assumed that he is a hard-as-nails impassable defensive colossus. If he is as ‘immense’ as his legend suggests, why is still playing for Napoli at the age of 30? And why would he sign for us?

There’s just something about him that makes the ‘disastrous signing’ senses tingle a bit. 

Hopefully that’s just paranoia and and he arrives at Goodison as the real deal. If for no other reason than his first name lends itself perfectly to a Pixies-inspired terrace ‘anthem’. However, we all know that these youngsters lack any imagination and so his surname will just get the Sam the Sham treatment.

Other persistent ‘chatter’ concerns the players – or more pointedly the massive contracts – that the Toffees want off their books in order to free up funds and appease the Financial Fair Play rules. Andre Gomes and James Rodriguez are the most notable, as it’s been assumed since about the moment we signed him that we would be happy to let Fabien Delph go. Oh, and did you even realise that Cenk Tosun was still a thing?

James is just an odd one – and it would be the most Everton trivia question ever: ’Which former Golden Boot winner played a full season and was never seen in the flesh by the fans once?’

His ability is beyond question – he is supernaturally talented – but you can see why a succession of managers have become disillusioned with his input. I’m fairly certain all supporters are desperate to see him start against Southampton, but Benitez has to weigh up whether the Colombian’s overall contribution is likely to provide value for money. The papers seem to think he’s already made his mind up.

Gomes is another who has so much talent, and if he could consistently reproduce the form he showed in those two good games he had that time then he would be first pick every week. But sadly last season he competed with little fat Tanya (Allan) in the slower-than-a-Merchant-Ivory-film stakes. A shame because his playing style is sort of what you like to think of as the classic Everton midfielder. 

That’s ‘classy’ by the way. Not ‘one-paced and shit’.