Come on season, hurry up and finish…..
As one Galloway was losing his seat, another one was finding his feet. You can relax, I’m not going to write this article in rhyming couplets, although the challenge after 37 games to write something remotely original, or the humdrum in an original way, makes it sorely tempting. But no, instead, reflections on the West Ham game, and if things do rhyme, well, in that case I’m a poet and I didn’t know it.
Luckily for me, and luckily for Everton’s future, if not Luke Garbutt’s, Brendan Galloway had his first outing at senior level in a friendly (sorry, intense penultimate league fixture) at Upton Park (also known as the Boleyn Ground – where the hell do they play?) and rather than go for the glass-half-empty verdict of “he didn’t disgrace himself”, I’d go as far as saying the lad did well, and we can look forward to a sound future with him. OK, he failed to track Downing’s little run behind him and let him in to score, and yes, of course, that is a fairly fundamental error, but the lad will learn from it, and with Jags and Stones alongside him also no stranger to a rix or two this season, he can hardly be singled out for criticism when not only was it his first Premiership start, it was also in his less favoured Left Back birth that he found himself in. I’m delighted the lad got his chance, slightly baffled, but delighted. Once we knew Baines was a no-show, we probably all assumed Garbutt was going to be a shoo-in at LB, but not for the first time this season, a Martinez selection left most of us scratching our heads. Garbutt is a sound player, and probably head and shoulders (sorry, tenuous ‘scratching heads’ link) above his peer group at U21 level, but for whatever reason we can’t seem to seal the deal on his future, so whilst there’s that uncertainty, I can’t blame RM for picking someone who has made a commitment to the Club, albeit I see this in hindsight and not at the time the team sheets came out. We all know Luke is keen on playing first team football, and we all know Baines is not quite over-the-hill but certainly approaching the summit, so why not sign him on with a promise of a season-long loan to a Watford or Bournemouth, where he’ll certainly get plenty of defensive practice, and then take the view who’s the best option for the start of the 16/17 season. Mind you, if I were him, I’m not sure what the allure would be of committing to Everton longer term over another Premier League side who’d bite his hand off and pay him handsomely for the privilege, to almost guarantee long term starts at LB for the next 4-5 years. The lad’s got talent, and he needs to make the most of it. I hope his future lies with us, but somehow I doubt it. Watch the uproar on social media if he goes.
Back to Galloway. At times, his face betrayed his lack of confidence, a slightly bewildered look at times, and Downing certainly decided to have plenty of runs against him to see what he was made of. And, it would appear, he’s made of stern stuff. A few good tackles in the Stones mould, a little less going forward obviously than Baines or Oviedo, but the lad did good.
The lack of width down one side, despite Osman’s probings (ooh er missus), meant we tried a bit more direct stuff, not hoofs up to the big lad, but more direct along the ground stuff, that made quite a few early openings and a fine early save for Adrian to make. Once more, a hint of a few extra strings to the Martinez tactical bow, a bow we hope to see strengthened considerably before next season.
The game rarely spluttered in to much life, but after their goal, we mustered a semblance of energy, and Ossie and Rom scored their customary goals against West Ham, both of them excellent finishes. Curious lack of celebration for the first goal mind you. Ossie looked lively most of the game, McCarthy once more made good runs from deep, and direct, Barry looked unruffled and positive in his forward passing, Coleman was ‘handy’ too, and Howard had another easy game with precious little to do. A lad called Aiden Who came on to make the match winning cross, and let’s hope if he stays, that he can do more of that next season. If he stays. Ummm. Sadly, Aaron Lennon’s last two games for the Club have been a bit downbeat, but it will be interesting to see if he can be lured to Goodison for two sandwiches and a Diet Coke, which is probably what we’ll offer Levy first off. To rate him at £9m, as Spurs allegedly do, is almost as laughable, and if they stick out for that, and if someone else is daft enough to pay it, then good luck son. I’m sure we could find a half decent winger for half that plying his trade in Greece or Romania, or maybe Rom was letting us in on a secret with his Deulofeu goal celebration? I wonder? I’m not one of those that was won over by Deulofeu, a good player, but an end product more like my attempts at home baking than the best that Masterchef can offer (OK, I know that’s random, but it’s May for God’s sake, I’m scrabbling around for new metaphors). I can’t exactly see Deulofeu breaking in to the Barca first team, or even in to the squad, so maybe the lad wants to come back, after all, he know the weather “is very very wind” so he knows what to expect on a cold sunny day down by Albert Dock. Time will tell, but like Garbutt staying, don’t hold your breath.
So one more game to go, and the excitement builds: can we secure 10th, will we win a place in the Europa through the Fair Play League (good avoidance measures yesterday lads), and will RM manage to use the words, phenomenal, unique, real, talent, inspirational, uplifting and majestic in one sentence.
As a summary of where we’ve got to this season, it doesn’t get much better than that.