West Bromwich Albion 1 Everton 1

A point away at a traditionally quite tough place, against a side out to impress a new manager, wouldn’t normally be sniffed at. However, with Liverpool dropping points at home this game at the Hawthorns represented a great opportunity to pile some pressure on the other sides hoping to kick and scratch their way into that mingebag jackpot fourth place in the table.

Unusually for Robert Martinez’s Everton though they blew that chance with a poor performance, particularly in the second half when defending the lead earned by Kevin Mirallas’s well taken 41st minute goal.

The creeping fears about injuries are starting to look well-founded now, with only really Mirallas looking vaguely dangerous out of a front four that included Bryan Oviedo, Leon Osman and the desperately out-of-form Romelu Lukaku. The young Belgian needs to be rested or provided with some competition because he barely poses a threat lately. Whether a human pylon with a raggedy hamstring is the answer only time and the usual work permit guff will tell.

In Lukaku’s defence, it was his knockdown that fell to Mirallas who burst past Diego Lugano – who sounds like every holiday airport in the Mediterranean and a skirmish in the Falklands – and slotted coolly past Ben Foster. Despite the obvious delight at taking the lead though, without Steven Pienaar and Ross Barkley Everton just never held the ball long enough up at the business end of the pitch and after the break were restricted to sporadic half-chances in what was a scrappy, horrible game.

Pepe Mel threw Victor Anichebe – the ‘Neech’ – on  for the second half and the much-joked-about former Everton man did a pretty passable impression of a professional centre-forward, holding the ball up and helping the Baggies to build attacks and put pressure on the Blues’ defence. Indeed, on 75 minutes he found James Morrison on the right-hand side of the Everton area, from where the winger was allowed to get the ball into the six-yard box thanks to Leighton Baines and James McCarthy’s half-hearted defending. Lugano then managed to get across Sylvain Distin at the near post and absolutely buried a diving header.

Where do the West Brom get these fellas from? They appear to have a production line of of oafish long-haired gadgies who, to use coaching parlance, ‘give you a solid 6/10 week in, week out’.  He’ll never score again, him.

Anyway, if the deserved equaliser wasn’t fun enough, Seamus Coleman immediately left the field clutching his hamstring. Aiden McGeady got 10 minutes though, so there’s something.

Distin had a goal disallowed at the very end, for being enormously offside, and Everton slipped down to sixth place. The margins for error are incredibly tight at the top of the table, so if you can’t go and outclass opponents – and you can’t every week – then you have to simply find a way to win against the less celebrated opposition like West Brom. After getting ahead the Toffees needed to exert the sort of control that has been one of the hallmarks of this season, but a combination of the Baggies’ efforts and Everton’s lack of so many first choice creative players meant that it never panned out that way.

It happens. The important thing is how you respond.

Twatting Stevenage and Liverpool would probably be adequate.

It will be interesting to see whether this slightly grubby result and the mounting injuries have any effect on Martinez’s approach to the transfer window. Does he more or less stick with what he has and hope to struggle on and stay within reach of Champions League qualification until players like Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu come back into contention, allowing him to save whatever dough there is until the summer? Or will he feel that the ‘platform’ we have given ourselves already this season is too good to waste by being cautious?

What we should do, if we’ve got any sense, is borrow a ton of cash off some lender of ill repute, get a load of Galacticos in and just win the league. Then, and this is the key part of the plan, we just Thelma and Louise the whole thing – set fire to the stadium, melt the trophy down and tell everyone that’s it, footy is over and Everton won. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT, GREG DYKE?

They probably won’t though, you know what they’re like. The shithouses.

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West Bromwich Albion Preview

‘First they came for the Geordies and I did not speak up, because I was not a Geordie.

Then they came for that terrifying kid who supported Leeds and was crying when they got relegated from the Premier League and I did not speak out, because I was not a Leeds fan.

Then they came for the Manchester United fans who wear the green and gold scarves and I did not speak out, because like most of them I’m not actually sure what the real point of the scarves is any more. They must have lost a couple of games.

Then they came for the Hull City supporters who did the tiger maul dance and I did not speak out, because I was not a Hull City supporter. Or a tiger.

Then they came for those Arsenal lads who held up the Eduardo shirt when he got injured, and I did not speak out because I was not an absolute bellend trying to get on the telly.

Then they came for the Liverpudlians who dressed as cardinals and to be honest I did actually speak out this time and I said ‘there’s well more than them you know, they are just the tip of iceberg’.

Then they came for West Brom fans who do the ‘Boing, boing’ thing and I did not speak out, because I was not a West Brom fan and to be quite honest I was still seething that they only took the cardinals last time they were here. I did point though, to where the West Brom fans were hiding, because all that bouncing around is really fucking irritating.’

So then, West Bromwich Albion, eh?

West Brom.

The ‘Baggies’.

They’ve got a new manager. His name’s Pepe Mel. Apparently he left his last job because it was a grind.

What? Get out of it.

He actually left because Real Betis sacked him but he apparently worked wonders there, getting promoted and into the Europa League with no money to spend. To be honest, this was all gleaned from listening to a couple of podcasts – if it’s factually incorrect take it up with Sid Lowe. Anyway, on the strength of those passing comments we are branding him the Spanish Iain Holloway.

Unlike Everton’s own Latin smoothy, Mel isn’t particularly Spanish-looking. In fact he looks a bit like Brian Dennehy in that creepy film about John Wayne Gacy. However, he doesn’t win the Premier League ‘check his passport’ award for this season – that clearly goes to Arsenal fullback Nacho Monreal who looks like he should be limping dead fast down Park Road with his Berghaus hood up in the height of summer, drinking a bottle of Lucozade Sport and only stopping occasionally to remonstrate with his Pirates of the Caribbean-looking Judy who is trailing in his wake screaming abuse at the top of her lungs.

Doesn’t he?

Going back to West Brom, apparently they will be without the services of Hull-bound Shane Long, the Irish striker who always looks pretty decent against Everton and indeed is often linked with a transfer to Goodison Park. He’s big, strong, doesn’t score many goals but absolutely works his stones off for the cause. Baggies fans need not worry though, they have a ready-made replacement in Victor Anichebe who, let’s face it, has all the same attributes as Long. Apart from the effort part, obviously.

And yes, that might seem a bit two-faced given that we always tried to look for the positives in Anichebe before his £6 million move to the Midlands, but that’s the nature of the beast. You can’t help yourself sometimes, especially when you don’t want to feel as if you are adding to the tsunami of shite that’s being heaped on a player from the stands. At his worst though he really never helped himself. For someone of such limited ability he needed to find some area in which to compensate and he never realised that early enough. The penny did seem to drop towards the end of his Everton career but it’s safe to say that a move was the best thing for all parties.

Apart from West Brom.

Long will be joining Nikica Jelavic at Hull – the crafty Croatian is their record signing and leaves with nothing but good wishes from the Evertonians. No one ever doubted his effort, regardless of how he completely disintegrated as a functioning Premier League forward, and so the supporters stuck with him and were palpably willing him on whenever he featured in the side. That he was so grateful for that and wished it to be known in his open letter was a nice touch. You want people to leave the club with their head held high and with fond memories.

Who, if anyone, is coming in to replace Jelavic though seems like anyone’s guess at the moment. Martinez seems unfazed – but then he always does – but releasing our second choice centre-forward would seem on the surface at least to weaken our hand when negotiating to bring someone in. The selling club is going to know that we are snookered if a deal doesn’t go through and as we have seen during countless transfer windows in the past, the Goodison hierarchy won’t think twice about walking away from the table if they think some Johnny Two-Phones foreign representative is taking the piss with the demands.

‘No mate, you don’t understand. Not all at once. Comprende? Installamentos. Er, how do you say it? Drip. On the dr… EL DRIPPY-DRIPPY! Is he deliberately acting soft this kid? That’s it, give him a Delta Taxis card and tell him to fuckin’ beat it. GO ‘EAD LAD, SLINGO YER ‘OOKO. NO DUCK TOUR FOR YOU NOW, GREEDY ARSE.’

We were linked with that young Belgian striker from Anderlecht, and Kenwyne Jones of course, but now it is being reported that Martinez’s quest for another massive black lad to play up front has seen him turn his attention to some character called Lacina Traore. Or, to be more precise, West Ham are apparently on the verge of signing the 6’8” tall Ivory Coast forward on loan from Monaco but Everton are looking to ‘do a Lukaku’ again and step in at the last minute.

To hijack an old Iain Holloway analogy: ‘Hang on, I’ve been buying her ale all night!’

Lord only knows if this Traore is any good like. He’s been scoring goals in the Romanian and Russian leagues which, as we know, means absolutely nothing.

Going back to the Baggies for a moment, another striker who could be missing from this game is Niclas Anelka. The Jewish owner of Zoopla, West Brom’s shirt sponsor, has demanded that the French striker be dropped in the wake of his goal celebration the other week: the anti-Semitic ‘Quenelle’.

Presumably the full name of the weird gesture is: ‘Quenelle! What are you thinking there you daft, offside, aardvark-faced nugget?’

Finally, did anyone hear Grant Holt being interviewed after his transfer to Aston Villa? He was asked what he brings and, rather sheepishly he said: ‘I’m different from the other strikers they have here already. I’m not as fast as Gabby Agbonlahor and I’m probably not as sharp as Christian Benteke.’

Reach for the stars, son. Reach for the stars.

Everton 0 West Bromwich Albion 0

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‘Ah, see that arl fella off the Barclays advert’s died’ was the first of several misunderstandings on a muddled afternoon at Goodison.

Fair play to the Match of the Day editors, they managed to make it look like something of a humdinger when in fact Roberto Martinez’s first Premier League home game was, let’s be honest, really boring.

Solid, unadventurous sides, and that’s exactly what Steve Clarke’s Baggies are, can cause problems for anyone, and Everton have struggled in the past to break down teams who treat a visit to Goodison the same way they would Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge.

What we saw on Saturday then was hardly anything totally new, and as we’ve already stated previously you have to resist the temptation to fall into the trap of attributing every event to a proscribed narrative. However, it’s still hard to shake the feeling that the patient approach by Everton that served them fairly well at Carrow Road hampered them to a large degree here. It was the sort of performance that would have been deemed textbook if it were the away leg of a European tie, but at Goodison Park against the sort of side we expect to beat it often looked pretty anaemic.

When Everton got the ball in the box or forced a corner the crowd showed that they were itching to get behind the team and build pressure on West Brom but those moments were simply too infrequent. During the closing stages especially, when you traditionally expect an element of ‘the Alamo’ at Goodison, the match just slithered to its unsatisfactory conclusion. The Goodison atmosphere is a massive weapon in any Everton manager’s arsenal and it just felt like our own approach negated it.

Marouane Fellaini had Everton’s best chance, stabbing a shot against the post, and the largely subdued Seamus Coleman saw a cross glance off the crossbar, but overall the visitors found it reasonably straightforward to maintain their shape and put all the onus on Everton to try and figure the game out.

There’s really not much else to add. Everton weren’t exactly terrible, but the fact is they will face plenty of fit, strong teams like West Brom at Goodison this season and so they will need to consider methods that will force those opponents out of their comfort zone and into making mistakes.

There’s a massive amount of goodwill for Roberto Martinez, aided somewhat by the ongoing fallout with the previous manager, but he needs to sustain that by playing exciting football and, most importantly, winning games.

Finally, you know you shouldn’t watch Sunday Supplement but sometimes well, hey, no one’s perfect. Anyway, who is the Mancunian tit on there from the Sunday People who reckons that £12 million for Leighton Baines is reasonable given that he is 28 years old but at the same time Chelsea are taking the piss offering anything less than £50 million for 27-year-old and far less clean-living Wayne Rooney?

For all the verbal jousting going on between Everton and Manchester United, everyone needs to remember that this whole thing, like almost every transfer ‘wrangle’, just boils down to the price and nothing else. When David Moyes countered Martinez’s jibes about the way United now do business by remarking that he knows better than the Spaniard ‘how Everton work’ it was something of a cheap riposte but unfortunately we all know that there is an element of truth in it. If the Toffees really want the cash for the two players concerned – although the suggestion is now that Fellaini is the most likely to go – then as the end of the transfer window approaches the pressure will mount on Martinez to start taking these ‘derisory’ bids more seriously. Moyes knows that because he’s been there.

The sooner it’s sorted now, one way or the other, the better. Because it’s fucking boring.

West Bromwich Albion Preview

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Everton would like to issue a warm welcome to West Brom, famously nicknamed ‘Big Ron’s alibi’, for the first home round of the 2013/14 Premier League Tekken Tag Team Tournament.

After last week’s encouraging draw at Carrow Road, expectancy is pretty high for the Goodison curtain raiser – our sticky Spanish manager Roberto Martinez has even recorded a video, reminiscent of the Patrick Swayze infomercial on Donnie Darko, where he encourages the fans to turn up and be part of the unit, or something. Essentially, keep being nice to Victor Anichebe and don’t start screaming ‘what’s the point of signing these players?’ if we don’t introduce Gerard Deulofeu the very moment we concede a goal.

‘Hi, I’m Roberto Martinez, and you may recognise me from such games as the FA Cup final.’

It would appear that Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines will continue to feature in the Everton starting line-up despite continued speculation over their futures. Martinez has condemned quite strongly – for him – the way Manchester United are trying to do business, making reference to their new manager, chief executive and the fact that Bill Kenwright feels let down given the relationships involved. Whether that’s designed to get United to fuck the fuck off though or simply come back with a bigger back of ackers is anyone’s guess.

The wording of the piece in the Daily Mail about how Fellaini feels this is the right time for him to leave before his value rises at the World Cup had more than a whiff of the agent about it, especially the part about how he ‘feels he has given the club good service’. Presumably United want the pair to start ‘agitating’ for moves, and you can’t help but wonder whether the stories linking them to Southampton left-back Luke Shaw have been placed in the press to light a fire under Baines’ arse.

Talking of agents, Nicolas Anelka won’t feature on Saturday, or perhaps ever again, after West Brom reportedly gave him compassionate leave after his representative Eric Manasse passed away. ‘Overwork’ was not cited as the cause of death.

Speaking of well-travelled footballing sorts, the Albion have signed the definitive vapourware player Scott Sinclair on a season-long loan from Manchester City. The winger is still only relatively young but has amassed an inordinate amount of clubs already. Chelsea, City, the list goes on – he’s only an unhappy spell at West Ham and an England captain cuckolding away from being Wayne Bridge.

His career is just bizarre. He’s certainly a multi-millionaire, and there is always a frisson of excitement among the fans of clubs he is linked with, yet he is barely ever seen on the pitch. He’s like some odd post-modern footballing hoax – like one of those made up internet players who an unsuspecting (bone idle) journalist slips into a ‘rumours’ box-out. Even his name is an anagram of LIARS CONCOCT.

You didn’t really check that did you?

Or maybe he is the Premier League equivalent of one of those infamous Hollywood scripts that studios keep paying writers to have an option on but never seriously intend to make. Perhaps the winning goal he scores at Goodison now, after saying all this, will be his Watchmen moment.

Despite the absence of Anelka and his ‘I wouldn’t go in asking to buy fertiliser in bulk you know’ beard, this Albion are typical of the tough, organised sides that lurk in mid-table, happy to make mugs out of anyone who takes them lightly. They have some good players in the likes of James Morrison and Everton scourge Shane Long and a pretty shrewd manager in Steve Clarke. The former Chelsea fullback seems to know his stuff, but he is definitely going to struggle to be considered for bigger jobs simply because he has that Billy Davies look of a man who was just woken up by his ex-wife knocking on the window of his car in her dressing gown with a pitying look and a mug of tea.

‘Have you been here all night Steve? Look at the state of you. You can’t let the kids see you looking like this.’

He knows it’s undignified, but what’s he meant to do when he hears that his youngest is now calling another fella ‘Dad’?

And what sort of job is ‘Bikram yoga instructor’ anyway? The sunbed twat.