Well then, the footy and that.
Been alright, hasn’t it.
Leeds looked potentially a bastard of a game in the circumstances but the Toffees took it in their stride and were a bit disappointed to not take all three points. Similarly, Brighton away could fall under the category of ‘tricky’, but this more compact and pacy Everton incarnation exposed the Greaty Guardiola’s team’s weaknesses and were comfortable winners.
It looked the sort of result that big boy sides just hoover up across the season.
Sandwiched in-between was a more dramatic game at Huddersfield, with Moise Kean’s Everton career summed up by a frustrated red card that saw him trudge down the tunnel and presumably straight out the players’ entrance; not stopping until Turin, like the Peter Kay Amarillo video.
At best, Kean ‘never settled’ at Goodison. But when he got his chances he simply didn’t look good enough. The harshly adjudged offside goal he scored here before his dismissal was arguably the closest he’s ever looked to a top class striker for the Blues.
Salomon Rondon came in on a free transfer on deadline day, and although the age profile doesn’t draw a flattering comparison with the departing Kean, it’s hard to imagine that the big Venezuelan won’t offer more overall value to the team, at least in the short term.
Marcel Brands, Everton’s Head of Trying to Buy Dutch Players, was apparently keen on bringing in Donny van De Beek on loan too, but Manchester United inexplicably wouldn’t let him go. That just seems a weird one all round – from them and us – and an indictment of the midfielders remaining at Everton if the apologetic-looking former-Ajax plodder – who looks more like a David Squires drawing than a David Squires drawing – is considered an upgrade.
While most of the attention was on who did – or did not – come into the club during the window, what’s interesting now is the reaction of those players who remained. More pointedly, those who were clearly told they could leave but couldn’t, or wouldn’t, find alternative employment.
How does that work? Do players generally get that the whole thing is just business, and much as no one within the game begrudges them a move for a better deal, do they take it in their stride when a manager tells them that they are not necessarily in their plans? Or do they take it really personally and start acting like a Welsh goth around the training ground?
Because there are players there like Andre Gomes – who was key in turning the game at Huddersfield – and Tom Davies, who are going to have a part to play, at the very least until the January window.
And obviously the big one is James Rodriguez.
Everton clearly want him off the wage bill and, if we’re to believe all we read, offered him as a makeweight in a deal for Porto winger Luis Diaz who, at least on Youtube, looks absolutely fucking mustard.
What now though?
While the situation no doubt has its nuances – everyone on the outside is just guessing; even top pundits like Noel Whelan and Carlton Palmer – you feel that Rodriguez has the the power to make it very simple. He could just work hard in training and then walk back into that team, such is his ability. Committed and fit, he is simply undroppable.
Work anywhere near as hard as Andros Townsend – who he is paid significantly more money than – and he’s in the side. Us Muggles don’t know what it’s like to be a top class sports star, but just on an everyday level wouldn’t you be mortified to be considered as someone who doesn’t work hard enough? That someone with not a fraction of your god-given ability is considered a better teammate because he is more committed?
It’s naive, but you would love to imagine James saying ‘I’ll fucking show the lot of you.’
But that doesn’t seem to be the way this plays out.
The star of the show so far has been little stoned-bunny-rabbit-faced Demarai Gray. And this is meant as a compliment, every time you watch him he just looks like an archetypical Manchester United winger – direct, frighteningly quick and technically spot on. How have we signed him for £1.7 million? A wonderful little player.
Rafael Benitez is not renowned for being the warmest of managers with players who he doesn’t see a use for – he’s reportedly extremely ‘professional’ in the strictest sense of the word – so he may have his work cut out to knit together the various elements of this squad. You would hope though that the players are honest enough to want to justify their significant pay packets and still put a decent shift in when called upon, even if they know that their long-term futures may not be in L4.
It’s early days but the signs are probably as encouraging as they could be. There seems to be the semblance of a vision – of the way we want to play and the sorts of players we want to play it. And after years of aimless drifting and burning more cash than the KLF, that feels like a tentative step in the right direction.
That said, when you look at the top sides now – in particular Chelsea with that addition of the almost peerless Romelu Lukaku – then you know that there are some seriously sterner tests awaiting. And for all our renewed verve going forward, you wouldn’t be surprised to see our defence get fucking rinsed at some point. Especially, now – uh oh spaghetti-o’s – literally the one thing we didn’t want to happen, apart from Sidney Cook being blasted into space with an eight-year-old boy, has only ruddy well happened. That’s right, breaking news, Seamus Coleman is injured.
There were will clearly be an inquest into how we’ve been left with a lack of cover at right-back, but for our money the blame lies with – in descending order – Seamus Coleman, Rafael Benitez, Marcel Brands, Denzel Dumfries, Micheál Martin the current Taoiseach, Jon Woods, David Unsworth, Jonjoe Kenny, Jonjo O’Neill, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Gary Stevens (Everton), Gary Stevens (Tottenham), Cliff Finch, Cliff Marshall, Cliff Richard, and the Shadows, and whichever cunt had off with the Arteta money.
Just watch Dwight McNeill – the Burnley Bolasie as no one calls him – have a field day (whatever a field day is) against Paul Holmes or Marc Hottiger – or whoever – on Monday now.