Let me introduce you to the concept of ‘Mood Hoovers’ that I read about recently. These are the people who suck the life and vitality out of you by their constant negativity. For these people, every silver lining has a cloud, for these people they see an opportunity as a problem because they’ve got to change, for these people the words in the song “ain’t no mountain high enough” is patently ridiculous because of course mountains are impossible to climb.
Step forward Mr Whoever-You-Were in Upper Gwladys, GS4, M171 to be precise. He spent the whole game, and I mean the whole game, even after he had been substituted, saying how Lukaku was useless. Effing Useless if we were to complete his vocabulary for the evening, and a waste of, ahem, £23m. Actually mate, it was £28m, but I suspect that wouldn’t have exactly improved your mood if anyone had pointed that out to you.
Let me introduce you to the callers on or after 10pm on BBC Merseyside, who not only lambasted Lukaku, but the whole team, and in one case, the manager as well. In fairness, one caller said our own Ronnie Goodlass had gone too far in criticising Roberto, so there you go, another mood hoover, and this one, a former player and legend that should know better. And finally, the handful of callers on Radio5Live before they got themselves back to Man Utd, were similarly negative. Mood hoovers, the lot of them.
All it did listening to the constant moaning and groaning was that it made me shout at the radio, telling them to back the team or not bother coming. After all, we’d just won a game 3-1, it wasn’t as if we’d been beaten 4-0 by the RS, or drawn 1-1 at home to Hull, was it? This attitude sucks the life out of me, but it also makes me resolve to be more positive, a feature of the St. Domingo’s website, part of our ethos.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about sweeping frailties under the carpet, far from it. It was this author who tried to rein us back a bit after the win in Wolfsburg has conveniently obscured our view of defensive frailties. And it was also me that moaned and groaned after the Hull game. We’re not averse to it ourselves, but the balance has got to be about stressing the good things more than we grumble about the things that need changing. We are ‘supporters’ – and the Dictionary.com defines this as “an adherent, follower, backer, or advocate” – and whilst that doesn’t mean we become completely blue-eyed and see the positive in everything, surely to God we can celebrate a home win by calling in about who played well, and not slam a manager who led us to victory, or a centre forward who admittedly had an ‘off-night’? We stray in to dangerous territory if we try and preach ‘how’ a team should be supported, but bear with me on this.
If we’d said 16 games ago that we’d be eulogising Naismith and Besic as two stand out players before Christmas, there wouldn’t be many believed it. But last night was a toss of a coin over who got MOTM. And Naisy in particular was being hailed as the returning saviour, dare one even say the Messi-iah (“he’s not the Messi-iah, he’s just a very naughty boy/bag of energy and movement”), and I’m certain that wouldn’t have been expected back in August either.
Besic, as they say, “likes a tackle”. He also likes to break up opposition play, and when he works out exactly how much time he’s got, and when he’s got it, he likes a pass as well, as he showed several times last night. Without doubt this was his best game in an Everton shirt, and whilst we were denied the delicious sound of skin on skin, bone on bone, of a duel between him and Karl Henry, he did at least see former Bad Boy Barton off as the vertically-striped saviour of QPR was kept at bay for most of the match. Barton in fairness played quite well, but his fondness for use of the elbow that still makes Big Dunc look like a floating butterfly, soon got him in to trouble with the ref and of course with Naismith. But he never looked up for duelling with our favourite Bosnian – he may look about 14, and should be on the sofa with his X-Box, but he tackles with gusto, runs around as much as McCarthy (well, almost), and likes to build from the back and look for the direct ball, a habit that might just serve the team well over the rest of the season.
Back to Naismith. My friend in M171 likes him. We don’t need Lukaku apparently, what we need is “someone who’s not as good, but tries hard”. Oh dear. Step forward then, Stuart Barlow. A player who worked his gonads off, but couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo. Never was the nickname ‘Jigsaw’ so perfectly coined – looks great, but falls apart in the box. Mr M171 wants a few more of these to replace the over-priced Rom. Tit. I won’t deny Rom looked lethargic last night, and he leapt with all the aerial prowess of a Peter Crouch (cue headed hat trick against us on Boxing Day) with lead boots, but he surely is worth a few off games? Remind me who is our top scorer, remind me who it was last season, remind me how old the lad is, and remind me who has scored more top flight goals by this age than any other player? Naisy is never going to be in that category, but I’ll tell you what, when it comes to the end of the season, there will be plenty of goals that others will credit the contribution to Naisy. His running creates space for others, it also creates space in the channels for himself, but sadly is rarely picked out, or not as often as you’d think he would be (perhaps my lofty position from the UG means I can see something that Distin can’t?). But he also brings energy and vitality, and thank God someone’s got some left after the mood hoovers have had their say. When McCarthy is back, these two alone will dictate a tempo that will become infectious in the team and the squad, and we can say that we have seen a few more direct options to explore rather than just the crabbing that goes on far too often at the back. And if Roberto can fit Besic in to that side as well, then we really will be motoring. And don’t forget Stones. And don’t forget Mirallas who only knows how to play one way. And don’t forget we’re yet to see the best of our marauding full backs (especially Seamus) this season. And a promising lad called Eto’o looks the biz too.
So, plenty of reasons to be cheerful. Yes we can say Lukaku had a poor game, but why slam him when we’ve won 3-1? Yes we can say Distin appears, just appears, to be a little left-footed and predictable. But, 3-1. Maybe Howard could have done better with their goal that came moments after another bewildering referee’s decision. But, 3-1. Yes, McGeady excites and frustrates in equal measures at times. But, 3-1.
And I’ve only picked out Besic and Naismith for special praise, and we can be cheerful about an imperious performance from Barkley (“but he gave the ball away a couple of times?” Yeh, 3-1), and another strong performance from Mirallas (“but Roberto should have taken him off before he got injured”. Yeh, 3-1), and an exciting little cameo from Kone (“but he’s obviously not match fit”. No, not fully, but 3-1).
So if after last night you feel the need to go out and drown your sorrows rather than smile and celebrate an easy win, then that’s fine, go ahead. But, 3-1. After all, do you think Speedos Man is a mood hoover?
PS if you want to read about the power of positive thinking, I recommend The Art of Being Brilliant by Andy Cope – and you’ll learn all about mood hoovers too.