Friendly Fire


The Premier League season lurches ever closer and Evertonians continue to try and get some indication of just how different Roberto Martinez’s team will be to that of David Moyes.

If you are hoping to get some indication here, with in-depth analysis of the two recent friendlies against Euro-behemoths Juventus and Read Madrid then you are in for something of a disappointment, as staying up until all hours to watch an exhibition game on the internet is the behaviour of the serious oddball.

Kevin Mirallas scored a good breakaway goal against Juventus but the Italians drew level thanks to a lovely swerving drive from Kwadwo Asamoah. The ball only broke to the Ghanaian thanks to some slack control by Leon Osman but he still ‘had a bit to do’ as he leathered it first time from long range.

Osman also missed in the ensuing penalty shootout but apocalypse survivalist Andre Pirlo put his kick wide before teenage defender John Stones chipped the ball home in a manner that could only be described as ‘impish’.

Everton won then and earned the right to face Real Madrid on Saturday night. In what sounded like an open game, Cristiano Ronaldo broke twice from deep, first rounding Tim Howard to score and then teeing up the startled Mezit Ozil for a tap-in. There was talk off off-side for both goals, as well as a disallowed Everton goal and calls for a penalty.

Nikica Jelavic scored a consolation in the second half with Aroune Kone yet to impress, by all accounts.

As ever, you can’t read much at all into these games. It’s only in the high pressure atmosphere of the Premier League that we will get a real indication of any real change in Everton’s style. Knocking the ball around the back at a leisurely pace is all well and good on a balmy evening on a baseball diamond – it’s what the Blues’ defenders do when getting kicked up the arse by Romelu Lukaku, with Cockney fatties screaming ‘kill the Scouse cunt!’ from the sidelines that will be the true measure of the new continental approach.

After all, there is only so much you can alter when using the same players and thus far, despite being linked to all sorts, there hasn’t been any movement on that front since the initial flurry of purchases from Wigan Athletic. Presumably the funds for James McCarthy, Tom Ince, Aiden McGeady or any of the long list exotic foreign midfielders Martinez is reported to be interested in will only become available as and when Leighton Baines or Marouane Fellaini are sold, and the understanding seems to be that the ‘transfer merry-go-round’ that will probably whisk one of those two away will only really get going when Real Madrid finally locate a stick big enough to put the moon on as requested by Tottenham Hotspur as payment for Gareth Bale. Plus cash.

An odd news story in the week concerned Manchester United’s written apology to Everton over the way they recruited David Moyes. Presumably Bill Kenwright is too classy to wipe his arse on it and send it back. After all, if they were sincere they had plenty of opportunity to act completely differently and above board but chose not to. On the other hand though, it still seems incredible that the Everton board had no idea at all that something was afoot all the while that Moyes was sitting out his contract. The whole thing is distinctly iffy, quite frankly, but ultimately it’s irrelevant – the idea in the papers that Everton’s displeasure about the way it was all handled could sandbag a deal for Baines is phoney. If they offer enough money and Baines really wants to go there then it will happen, apology or not.