I wonder what it would have been like had Twitter been around in the 90s or 00s when Everton’s main aim was avoiding something rather than achieving something? Judging by the meltdown after we lost our 4th league game of the season against Spurs (ahem, that’s right, our 4th game out of 25, and only Chelsea at the top have lost fewer), I think it safe to say I would have unfollowed all but a handful of sane and sensible Blues.
That is not “our season over”, we haven’t “only got the FA Cup to play for”, and, most ludicrous of all, we haven’t got “a tactically naive manager”. If we win all our remaining fixtures, we will have 84 points and we’ll have won the Cup. That might not happen, but it’s just as realistic as some of the things the moaners have had to write about today. But frankly, I don’t want to talk about them any more, I want to talk about Everton.
For the first 2/3 of the game, right up to switching off for 2 seconds to concede a goal, we were at times exhilarating, and yet so frustrating in equal measure. The way we passed the ball around at times, and in particular the way we won the ball back, was outstanding. But we had to do that too often, because despite the crisp passing elsewhere on the pitch, in and around their box, we couldn’t find a way through. There was no ball chipped in to the area, because we have 3 injured strikers, and only Naismith, and occasionally Mirallas, trying to fulfil that role. And they aren’t going to win much in an aerial duel with a centre back. So we had to try to thread it through, pretty at times, but equally led to me shouting at our poor little innocent TV all too often.
Much has been written on these pages before about Naismith. Today summed the lad up for me – loads of energy, running around hassling defenders; intelligent runs dragging their defence with him; but ball at feet, or even when he didn’t have it when Mirallas should have put him through, he isn’t going to get you 20 a season. But it isn’t his fault he’s there, we’d rather have Rom, Kone or even Traore, but they aren’t fit. So give the lad his due, support him, and hope!
It would be fair to say the substitutions didn’t work today. All three looked off the pace, and really only Deulofeu has an excuse for that as it’s his first game time in 7 weeks. Barkley is not fully fit yet, and he’s lost a bit of his swagger and confidence, which will surely return. McGeady looked disinterested right from the moment he came on, and that’s a surprise as we will need him as the season progresses. I sense he isn’t the most popular in the changing room, and I think he’ll need to win both his fellow players and supporters around with some top-notch performances over the next 13 games and in pre season.
McCarthy was back to his terrier-like best. He was all over the park (can Opta tell us how much he’s run for us this season?) and was instrumental in getting the ball back, and distributing it well whenever he could. The defence was largely outstanding but for those sleepy 2 seconds that ultimately cost us. An expensive 2 seconds for one game, but not defining for a whole season.
It is said that you need to beat the teams around you. Well, palpably that is nonsense. It is a 38 game season and you get the points where you get them. The reality is that we’ve lost more points against the bottom 10 teams than we should, but we are still 6th, we’re still on 45 points, and we have lost to Spurs and Liverpool in consecutive away games. Our challenge is to win on Wednesday, and then keep winning – we have some testing fixtures ahead of us, in fact all 13 will be testing. That’s what comes with being up at the top, playing to win, not playing to avoid losing. Make no mistake, Spurs will be cock (ha!) a hoop after beating us after we outplayed them for most of the game; and that for me underlines how far we have come, but it also underlines how far we still have to go.
We can continue to grumble on twitter, or we can continue to applaud the team and our manager about how Everton has developed this year. I’m as disappointed as the next supporter, but I’m throwing no toys out of my pram on the basis of that defeat.
We are Everton. We don’t do things easy.
PS I don’t have a pram, that’s a metaphor………
PPS yes it was a penalty by the way. Thanks Clatts, nothing given all game. But I’m not moaning about it, because we could and should have won without needing it