Friday, 28 November 2014

We must have peace at home, in order to be formidable abroad

I was right

"A fraught 2-1 win". That's what this correspondent called for this time last week in the big West Ham game - and what happened? So everything that follows should be read through that prism: a prism of pristine, crystalline truth. 

Without getting too moist and nostalgic, what timelessly satisfying outing that was. Hard to think of a combination of factors more likely to add up to an enjoyable match-going experience than a cold, dark autumn day, a niggly, spoiling for a scrap atmosphere, a pantomime villain opposition manager and referee, hard done by cry-arsing opponents and a thrilling winning goal. If you picked a game at complete random from the past and asked your dad or granddad 'what was that one like?' and they gave that synopsis, you'd think "sounds a good afternoon that". 

I've really enjoyed Tony Hibbert's contributions in both the West Ham & Wolfsburg games. Filling in at left-back - probably expecting Downing to play against him I think, but as was said elsewhere possibly just as much to do with him being wise to the grockness of Carlton Cole, Andy Carroll & Kevin Nolan and all that entails. Whatever the reason, he stood in watchfully and did everything with control and nous - for someone who I think has only ever started in that position once before (a 1-5 atrocity at City 10 years ago at that), it was an excellent showing. On Thursday he was restored to his right-back slot and again played a full part in a fantastic win - there was even one moment where roles were comically reversed as McGeady won the ball back with a well-timed tackle, and Hibbert then went past his man with a well-disguised little turn. Its a far cry from just over a year ago when Marinez seemed to think Hibbert was past it - preferring Stones out of position at full-back for the Anfield shellacking and even moving McCarthy there over putting Hibbert on in the next game. 

After a slight quibble re Martinez's selections, its worth mentioning that he's handled these two games expertly. The pragmatism he showed in playing Hibbert left-back instead of sticking rigidly to 'the plan' and putting Luke Garbutt in was vindicated on the day and even more so by how well he played and how at ease he looked in Germany. One of the more asinine decisions Moyes made in his last year was to put all of Gueye, Junior(!) & Oviedo in for starts and get booted from pillar to post by a Leeds line-up in which El Hadji Diouf was one of the less snide players. Throwing them in, seeing how they reacted and 'toughend up' would have had some merit - doing it then virtually writing them all off because of it was bizarre and, odd word maybe, cowardly to be honest. 
The win against Wolfsburg was achieved with our best half of the season so far in my opinion - after a slightly iffy first half-hour, we counter-intuitively improved a lot after the usually outstanding James McCarthy went off (whether he had been not so involved due to carrying a knock or whether it was just co-incidence I'm not sure). Not to take the established figures performances for granted, but the most exciting thing about this win was that in Garbutt, Eto'o, McGeady* and especially Besic, who I thought was MOTM, there were new(ish) players "stepping up"and taking responsibility, not just backing up the spine of last year but adding to it. 
Get the Besics right
Hopefully people weren't influenced by Clarke Carlisle wittering on that Besic was playing a "very very risky game" by doing exactly what we tactically set up to do (Def Mid drop in, split the CBs and receive the ball) and doing it well, but I haven't seen much comment on how well he played - I thought he was brilliant. To be fair to the erstwhile Question Time mumbler, he does at least convey a sense of enjoyment of the games he commentates on and gets into them - if he ends up coming out with the odd bit of bollocks I suppose he's only doing what any of us would do in the same position....

*Even after his shocking miss 'Robert Terrible' kept running and offering a lot to the team - he should have been slipped in in the last minute by Barkley. 

The Enemy's Among Us

So I was in the Children's Savings Working Party conference call this morning....... 

Pretty unusually this next bit is prompted by something that happened in work, but I'm not actually going to go on about that, just what it nudged me to think about. 

Without going into any details, there was a decision made that seemed a bit odd, a bit rushed and not really the most logical way of solving it. The explanation given was put over that it had been come to due to "worries about a Daily Mail headline" - weird to hear it actually being cited like that. In discussion about politics, fiction about politics, as an excuse for politicians doing gormless stuff - yeah, you can say it was 'avoiding the Daily Mail slating them'....but for it to really be the case slightly jarred me. 
What is it about the Daily Mail that gets into people? You walk around the office and depressingly, if you see people with a non-work screen up I'd say 8/10 times its the Daily Mail. You have to credit the paper in a grim way - it has managed to convince a huge portion of normal people that it somehow is in league with them. An utterly cynical, small-c-conservative, fanatically monarchical defender of the elite, rich and vested interests is the go-to site for  people who, if they really do think like that, don't seem to apply it in any discernible way.  
I suppose its not right to infer too much from people clicking on a site because its in their favourites or buying a paper because its cheap - but it is insidious. You hear the clichéd (and nothing becomes a cliché without a good dollop of truth as Stuart Maconie pointed out once) scare-mongering and bitterness seeping into conversations. It bothers me on every level - that the source is such a flawed one to begin with and that it seems to be (shielded by the defence of being a newspaper) so unquestioned. 

I know going on about the Mail is the least original thing you can possibly do, but as I said at the start of this bit - how does it wield that power and instill such scaredycatness in people and institutions? And how has it captured a group who should have so little truck with its stance? Spin it round and imagine people who actually are pro-Queen, pro-flag, I-heart-mortgages, down-with-this-sort-of-thingers being fanatically drawn to and obsessed with how The Independent might be 'a bit off' with them and you might see what my ill-expressed puzzlement is getting it.

Or not. But how can you take any sort of journal seriously when they run in all-but successive days:

Mylene Klass v Ed Miliband. Mansion Tax Bad. Labour hates the wealthy. 
White Van Man Disgrace. Labour are snobs who hate the "average(!) person"
Class War! Labour v Private Schools. Labour hates the wealthy. 

The overlap between the first two is incredible, and I don't recall seeing this actually linked by anyone. In attacking Emily Thornberry ("this snobbery is the mark of a true champagne socialist") they actually flagged up "she's a snob - what's she got a three-story house in Islington?" - without reference to the fact that literally the day before they'd taken the exact opposite stance and been happy to implicitly agree with Klass (ludicrously) saying you can only get "like a garage" for £2m and only "little grannies" live in them. You cannot credibly switch so easily from one argument to the next. 
The last one, a plan to "put private schools under legal duty to co-operate with state schools" (to do something 'charitable' in order to continue to be classed as 'charities') was lambasted as "offensive biogotry", "tasteless" and in complete swing-back "class war" (again!). With an added dollop of mis-attributed 'hypocrisy'.

"you're getting hypocrisy wrong!!!". 

In both instances, the Mansion Tax and the Private Schools proposal, the Mail, amongst others, are utterly incorrect to throw out the hypocrisy angle. The reasoning is that Ed Miliband/Emily Thornberry has a big house, yet they want to tax big houses. Tristram Hunt went to a private school, yet they want to "tax" private schools and force them to help state schools. 

Neither is hypocritical. If they were saying "all Mansions to be taxed - except those of Labour MPs, no charge on those" and "all Private Schools have to make a contribution to the wider community - except the ones Labour Mps attended or their children may attend - they're exempt", of course that would be flagrant, scandalous hypocrisy. The fact that they're pushing for (very minor and tentative if we're honest) action on both despite their links to what they're pushing at makes the position stronger if anything  and is, without getting carried away, to their credit in my view. 

We're off to the centre of all this class war and craziness on Sunday for what is for better or worse, always 'a proper game'. Our record at Tottenham for any young fan probably seems pretty normal - since 2006 P8 W3 D2 L3 - but I dont have that luxury and instinctively think of it as one of the fixtures Most Likely To Prompt A High Pitched Voice Whine during the game and Market Leader In Pre-Empting A Fuck Off Everton Grump after it. 
92/93 L 1-2 (Beardsley)
6 times in the first 10 trips to White Hart Lane in the Premier League we contrived to throw away leads and lose in the dying stages - to comically late winners by the luminary names of Andy Turner and Darren Caskey on the first two occasions - with a potent cocktail of hard luck stories and sheer rank incompetence. You're looking at the 1-4 hammering with a Chris Armstring hat-trick as one of the least traumatic of that first decade because at least we were uncomplicated garbage and didn't tease the illusion of not being so. 

99/00 L 2-3 (Unsworth 2)
I'm sure Spurs fans wouldn't describe their record from 1992 - 2006 as being reliable, convincing or dependable. Yet over that period their record in this fixture was P14 W10 D4 L0 F29 A15. I suppose given the circumstances of some of the games, from the opposite side of the fence you'd have fond memories indeed of Everton collapsing late on. To Oyvind Leonhardsen...
01/02 D 1-1 (Weir)
The only time we didn't lose between 1998 and 2006 was achieved with an out-of-the-blue 20 yard dipping volley by David Weir and a desperate all-hands-to-the pump rearguard action by the 'trusty' 5-3-2 set-up, with the "wing"backs being Hibbert and Gary Naysmith....

"ah, they're awful arent they these immigranters?!"
'I dunno - have you ever worked with any?'
"yeah they were sound actually " 
'ever been assisted by any in any sort of situation where you needed their help or service?'
"yeah they were sound"
'ever met any when you were out?'
"yeah they were sound"
'ever known anyone who goes out with one?'
"yeah, they're sound"
'any family directly or indirectly come from abroad?'
"oh yeah, great stories, love them, all sound"
'ever played football or socialised with any?'
"yeah, they're sound"
'on football, ever enjoyed any play by or the universally acknowledged huge improvement in the game here by overseas players and managers coming here to work?'
"obviously, yeah, they're sound"
'ever mused on the fact, as the Czech politician Tomas Prouza did today, that in the Battle of Britain - the one event most said to identify our country's proud stand alone against evil - its known that the RAF included Polish, New Zealand, Canadian, Czech, Australian, Belgian, South African, Sri Lankan, Jamaican, French and American pilots?'
"yeah, yeah,we get whet you're saying. Nice one to them"
'so, they're not really that bad are they, overall?' 
"OH GOD YES! I'd over-ride all we've just covered to be honest , send em back and take my chances. If it meant some hypothetical person - who is never, ever any of the above - might not be able to temporarily theoretically claim some shadowy, meagre benefits, I'd prefer that. Overall, its just not worth the trade off...."
06/07 won 2-0 (OG, Johnson)
The turning point with regard to our fortunes at Tottenham, and actually a good claim at being where the Modern Era starts for Everton, was the 2-0 win early in the 2006-07 season. Given the prevailing form going into the game, given we were down to 10 men and given we had finished bottom half the season before, this match (won with an OG and a superb breakaway goal by Andy Johnson) arguably had a more long-lasting and seismic impact on our expectations than Everton Rooney at Leeds, which a lot of people might point to. Although Moyes famously never pushed on and won (or gave the consistent impression of trying to win) at the really Big grounds, after this point it was a bit of a surprise if we didn't have a real good go at Spurs, City (as then) or other 'nearly there' teams. 
09/10 lost 1-2 (Yakubu)
Hopefully its a good example of once you've crossed that threshold, even if you get set back soon after, you at least know you can do it. We beat Chelsea, Arsenal and Utd (away) last season - all have been turned back already this season, but I don't think that means we will automatically revert to feeling we cant win them: we haven't won here for 5 years again now, but having done it in 3 differing ways in recent memory, you approach it with a bit of confidence. 
10/11 D 1-1 (Baines)
Personally, I really rate Pochettino and think he will do a good job in the end - but they look a very in-between phases line-up to me at the moment. If we had a completely full squad to pick from and no game on Thursday before and Wednesday after I'd expect us to win. 

Controversial comment: if circumstances were absolutely ideal for us, that would give us a better chance. 

Its the same for Spurs though, and as it goes I can see a disjointed game with neither side playing well and a 1-1 draw - which would keep our unbeaten run going and set us up nicely for Hull at home in midweek. 

Think of a thing. Say its terrible. 

That's my top tip for if you get stuck how to end a blog (can also be applied at start and middle of piece too). 

"Black" Friday, that is a thing, and it is without any doubt utterly terrible. You wouldn't have thought something so brazenly terrible would actually have even dared to be floated...but there it is. Trending away. What are people doing? Flocking to take part in a grotesque spectacle, a herd-following orgy fixated on consuming..... And the media love it - of course there's nothing sneery or condescending in photos and videos of possibly hard up people fighting between themselves for some tat. "Image from #Primark". ('we all know what was meant by that....')
Thinking about it, I'm surprised the retailers and bosses are happy for it to receive so much attention as what it suggested to me mostly was - how much are we ripped off most of the time? If you accept that, whatever 'offers' or 'reductions' are hawked, goods are not going to be sold at a loss, there's an argument that the prices today are actually the about-right level, it would follow that the "usual" prices are unjustifiable other than people pay it. Its pushing it a bit, but you could say, if people could restrain themselves and not collude by paying the inflated/usual prices the rest of the year, the companies would slowly have to drag the asking prices down to "Black" Friday levels as standard. So, I suppose, if you went about it in a methodical, restrained way and didn't buy anything all year, then only bought selectively and according to need on "Black" Friday, it would be an entirely rational method.....

Well that's two attempts at taking a slightly contrary approach - at the end of the day though, as stated, its the worst of the worst and people need to just knock it off. 
"Oh, I've done the most awful rubbish at times just to have somewhere to go in the mornings"

No comments:

Post a Comment