Thursday, 22 August 2013

Walk around the World

Due to time constraints, this week's blog attempts to allow the pictures to do the work for it.

Throwing in this 'retirement' gimmick has screwed me right over, as one of the planned points of 'discussion'  was how much that signing was never going to work out and wondering just how upsetting/depressing it must be for a player, especially a striker like him who relies on people to put him in, to go from playing with the likes of Pires, Gerrard, Lampard, Raul, Seedorf etc - where you know you're going to found and get chances time and again - to plodding around in off chance that Graham Dorrans or James Morrison (neither of who are the worst in the league at all) might just end up screwing a shot in your general direction once a game.

This thought first occurred to me a few years ago when we left Saha up on his own, as an injury ravaged 34 year old, sometimes with a midfield of Neville & Heitinga as a supply line and the bile that would get hurled at him for "not working hard enough" or not burying immediately the first touch he'd got for 20 minutes.

I suppose the message would be - don't rely on unreliable, moody French strikers in their twilight years....

Incidentally, in a sign of the archival research lengths I'm going to thees days, have a look at Real's squad from when Anelka was there:

Just classic names from start to finish. Makes anyone worth his salt want to start a game on Football Mangager under an eccentric Bolivian persona, go a mid-to-low table outift and get hammered 1-5 by them, whilst drawing solace from the fact that there looked promising signs from the forward line of erratically drawn together free agents.

Last Season

The original tactician

Never went did I? Was suffering from my annual one-eye-blind-spell and spent the day listening to Radio 4 in the dark. So I'm probably in the unique position of my abiding memories of that 2-1 win with a Baines double (one cracker, one pen) being how fucked up Albert Speer was as he lived out his sentence at Spandau prison ( with his flowers and endless marches.
As stated at the time, it was a personal low-point for me when The Archers (which I never listen to) came on in the evening and i realised 'oh, nadgers, i've already heard this once' as it became apparent it was a repeat of the afternoon edition. 

They were a funny old crowd though weren't they them lot?

 Despite there being literally thousands of biographies dedicated to the main characters on all sides, its very rare that something captures the mixture of personal oddness, egos, fears and quirks that the Big Name Nazis, Stalin, Churchill et al brought to the most uniquely perilous set of circumstances the world's ever seen. And if it is going to happen, lets be honest, its not going to be in a hastily assembled blog purporting to preview Everton v West Brom......

Classic Game

Not a crop of games even the Everton marketing department at their most cringe-worthy could consider bringing out a box-set of. I will eschew temptation to carry on with last week's Duncan theme and say his last game/goal - the first YouTube from behind the goal video I was ever aware of incidentally (  as one of the comments highlights "funny az fuk wot gets sed" - and go because of the oddly appropriate timing for Everton 2 West Brom 1 in August 2004, with Leon Osman getting two very early on in his career.

The link being, that 9 years to the day ago, the game was played under the shadow of an impending bid by United for our star player and a defiant sense of "we'll carry on regardless" that seemed to run through proceedings. At that time, of course it was the pursuit of Rooney that was going on in the background.

There are no words available to do justice to how far on the 'other side of the fence' the Moyesiah is now - and also none to describe the amount to fuck he can get.

Despite a very impressive win last week (although I was relatively un-sobre enough to be absolutely convinced they won 4-0 having sat about 5 metres from the screen it was being shown on) I still get "Ben Swain going on Newsnight" vibes from him - he thinks he knows the lines, he thinks he knows he to bat away the questions, but I dont think he really does, and I think him thinking he's got it down will end up making things worse for him.

I dont want to go on about a former manager  too much, but his recent Quintesson-like ability to about face act is really quite remarkable face, its interesting that he has actually been called  on his gobshitery -  with the commentariat in general  surprisingly keen to highlight his comments from the Lescott-to-City saga, and the yawning gap in his bid last week.

What I wanted to do here was tie-in to the '04 match and find some quotes from Moyes about ensuring value was paid and that Everton shouldnt cave in just because United had deigned to take an interest in one of our chaps, but it actaully only led me to some Aresnal forum where everyone was saying Rooney was over-hyped and worth £10m at most.....

And, yeah, Martinez signing someone who was out of contract, someone from a different team entirely, and someone by paying the release fee contractually agreed is exactly the same.....

"He is English and if you want to buy English you have to pay a higher premium.
"We don't want to lose him as he's our best player, but if we do the only way is at the top price and the value we want."

David Moyes August 2004.

Oh look, something did turn up.
Fuck off Moyes.

Making the foolhardy move to over-estimate the value of one good performance - like sticking someone in at number 3 the next innings after a flukey 40-odd down the order in a losing cause - I've decided that after bewilderingly calling it spot-on last week, I'm promoting this 'feature' to top billing.

Having said that, I will be in the middle of Scotland gallivanting about as the game's being played so I will be distant from my failure if it all falls apart, which means this will be the first Saturady first home game of the season i've missed since 1998 (I think!)

I was encouraged by the performance at Norwich, thought we always went for the win and the signal that picking Barkley to start sent out was carried on in the rest of the game. The only quibble was that, apart from the lead up to Coleman's goal, Jelavic, then Kone when he came on (and annoyed me - with the utterly superfluous "A." on his shirt - in case people thought he was one of those other Kones in the squad. Maybe it was just in case people thought he was that crazy-wild kid army loon who was flavour of the month for a bit then vanished. LOL. Now, that's quite a weak jokey reference to that, but during the game when I expressed my displeasure at such an unneccasarily printed character, it was suggested by someone that it was to stop him getting confused with the cones in training. And we laughed heartily & genuinley at that, so when i'm saying 'oh, we played ever so well!!' bear my 'relaxed' state in mind ) never looked like getting in.

That said, maybe the balance was moved in our favour as Mirrallas, Barkley and others got more chance to have a crack than they would have if everything was channelled into getting the striker in, definitley Coleman & Baines had excellent games and caused plenty of problems - in general the wider we play the betteer I think.

Defensivley, although Norwich looked like they could get behind us a few times, by-and-large we didnt look to me as though Martinez's intrsuctions have been "become Gary Caldwell", although their first goal was too soft to be happening very often.

I cant see anything in this West Brom team (signing of the decade Shane Long aside) that we should be worried about though - in what should be a fairly defiant atmosphere. I'd start with same team and excpect us to win comfortably. 2-0 to Everton, with Baines missing a pen just to throw in a bit of intrigue.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Tall Drink Of Water She's A Norfolk Waterfall

Football season returns, and with it one of thee most sparsley updated & least missed blogs a special all-new extra-loose format!

The Game
Can't remember the last time I saw Norwich play and the only action I've seen of Everton's pre-season was a 2 min video of the Under 19s drawing 1-1 in Betis, on my phone, whilst waiting in the foyer/lobby at work - both goals were really nice moves worked up from the back and neatly finished, but I dont think this offers too many clues as to how things are going to go over the next nine months -  so for a full tactical run-down its fair to say there's probably better places to go.

I'm quite glad about my lack of revision as far as Everton go though, as

i) non-competitive football is high on the list of things that could just be culled from TV without any value whatsover being lost
ii) watching the games just seesm to have made people miserable earlier than usual. Both Greg O'Keefe in the Echo & Mark O'Brien ( were pretty pissy about the win(!) over Betis' "over 19s" on Sunday.

I'm sure the game was pretty uninspiring stuff, but its a pretty accepted Everton thing that this 'traditional' home friendly is a total waste of time - there have been two 0-1 defeats against similar opponents in fairly recent seasons without any of the negativity. I suppose any change to the extent there's been in Moyes leaving and Martinez coming in will make people look at things in a different way, but I'm of a very broadly supportive view of the new regime and if we keep the same squad as we have now, can only see us finishing 6-8th again.

Norwich have apparently bought well, with 'that Leroy Fer' who we wanted in January but failed his medical, Hooper off Celtic and this Ricky Van Wolfswinkel guy (right):

As far as I can tell, the two strikers are fixing the mistakes they made last January in getting in the absolutely dreadful Becchio off Leeds and Kei Kamara - who scored a total of one goal between them (see below) up til May. More goals, then, has to a likely result - although certain blog co-owner's predications of them making up a 19 point gap on us seems less on the cards to me.

For what's it worth (ie not much) I think it will be an open game and if I had to bet, I'd go 2-2 with Everton playing well and maybe doing something annoying like throwing away a 2-0 lead.

Last Season

One of the least enjoyable venues for one of the least enjoyable halfs of Everton. Watched it, breaking a self-imposed exile from Cuffs on The High Street to watch a 1-0 up stroll turn into a spirit-sapping 1-2 defeat following the inexplicable tactical switch to take off the only striker we had on and try to hang on to the slender lead in a 4-6-0 set-up.

Both games against these last season were exactly why I was never signed-up to the In Moyes We Trust battalion (1-0 up at home, no changes, no going for the 2nd. 90th minute inevitable equaliser followed by reactionary gesture substitution of putting Vellios on in the 91st minute) - and why I do think there's room for improvement. The pressure and lack of keeping the ball up the other end paving the way for Kamara and Grant Holt to score horrible goals and leave me saying we got what we deserved whilst some of the more rabid patrons joined Moyes in blaming the ref for playing too much stoppage time.

Obviously, I've actually stated just now that I think the same kind of thing might happen, but hopefully that would come from failure to shut-up shop rather than doing it unnecessarily, too soon, and unsuccessfully.

Info on Cuffs from
Facilities available:
The nearest thing to a Real Ale i've ever seen there is a Tetleys, its not City Centre, and the rest is pure fantasy based on my intermittent ventures there over the last decade


The player who was bafflingly taken off was the Croatian One-Touch specialist, who despite losing all remnants of form last season is probbaly my favourite player in the current squad. Even amid ignoring all the friendly buisness I managed a smile at seeing him spoaching a few goals.

Hopefully he will be the first choice striker as to my eyes he's a class and a bit above Anichebe & Kone. If we are going to create more cahnces in general then he shouldbe in there - its interesting the way when a player did well and the perceptions people have can be shifted. Everyone agreed he had a rough time last season but he still got some vital goals and his record (although pretty average) of 8 in thirty odd games was excatly the same as Big Vic - who in general was seen to have had a really good time of it.

Jelavic is sound by me anyway.

Classic Game
Bringing together all the elements from above, a match at Carrow Road, watched in a grot-hole converted police station, with a 2-0 lead squandered and a vital contribution from a not-everyone's-cup-of-tea but coll-as-fuck-to-me striker.....Norwich 2 Everton 3 from October 2004. Kilbane & Bent put Everton totally in control , it went 2-2 before Ferguson nudged home a minimalist classic of a towering header to snatch the win.

Talking of uninspring management, I remember being absolutley certain Norwich would go down when the one-man charisma typhoon that is Nigel Worthington said in his after-match interview that he "never really thought they could go on to win" despite them having a nothing-special Everton line-up totally rattled and the crowd rocking at 2-2 - if he didnt think they could win then, then it wa shard to see when he would....

Ed Balls
Hopefully I will be able to shoe-horn in a reference in every one of these (if there are any more like), but this is an easy one:

a by-all-accounts very knowledgebale Norwich fan as well as being one of my favourite names on the scene, it has to be said that he and Labour are having a poor time of it at the moment. 
Mark Steel's column in the Independent today is basically right - he does his trademark thing of thinking of one funny comparison ("It'd be like if..."), then stretching it that bit too far so that you end up thinking 'yeah, its not actaully like that is it though mate?'  - but the general point that the party's reluctance to come out hard against the Government has now reached a tipping point is spot on. 
As a member and from the grudgingly-accepting of the need fro them to play some issues a bit less radically than would be ideal, even I am a bit confused as to why they have been so silent and so almost deliberatley easy to ignore of late. Balls went to the game with Andy Burnham a few years ago, and I think they played up front together in the Labour v The Press match a while ago but from the hints in the Guardian interview with Burnham last week it sounded as though they're unlikely to cosying up next to Delia and Stephen Fry tomorrow. 
Hopefully that's wrong and they get back working together and get the party's collective arse into gear again soon, and realising that they personally have to take responsibility for getting people interested, getting people engaged and getting the idea out there that they can make a differemce and are determined to do it. Because, as politicians go especially, they both surely as people realise that they are just not getting through currently. The imperative need for this is two-fold: 
i) the country is in serious danger of sleep-walking into sticking with the shower who are in power at the moment in the next election if Labour do play-down to their current suppine form, with absolutley horrible consequences for society 
and ii) even more paramount, we need really, as a nation, need more pictures like this: