Ah, the fickle football fan gives vent after we lose 0-2 to one of the best sides in Europe. And thereby missing the point completely.
Not for the first time in our Everton-supporting lives, we failed – just – to match or even beat a so-called top 4 side, and rather than reflecting on what was good about yesterday’s performance that we can build on, the fickle fan focuses on what was wrong. Glasses decidedly half empty, rather than half full. The trouble is, if you try to stress the positives, you’re accused of being blind to the problems, of glossing over the things that are wrong, living in cloud-cuckoo land (wherever that is), or even of being a Happy Clapper, the last being the worst possible insult of course.
Well, those who have ever read my stuff before (thank you, and don’t forget your medication), will hopefully not consider me to be a Happy Clapper, but someone who tries to be objective. That means trying to see where things could improve by making strengths stronger, and not just focusing on our weaknesses. Just think of your own life, perhaps in work, or as a parent, or as a partner, or at Uni or school, if everyone told you about what you were doing wrong all the time, it’d be a bit draining, and certainly demoralising. If they said you’re good at *…* (insert something you’re good at), and we’d like to work with you to make it even better, you’d be pretty chipper, wouldn’t you? And if whilst doing that, they had a look at something with you that wasn’t up to scratch, you’d be more motivated to do something about it I’d guess.
So if you think I’m aiming this at the fickle Howard Haters, then you’re right. All I read about his performance was that he was at fault for the first City goal, and probably the second as well. Ok, I’d buy that (however, just before Kolarov shot with his usual left footed venom, he gave the eyes and the shape to cross the ball across the 6 yard box, so Howard was on a hiding to nothing), but what about a series of saves he made before and after those possible errors, which kept us in the game? No mention of those, or very little anyway. Howard is a good keeper, I’d be willing to bet he’s one of the best in the Premier League, which will get many guffawing and reaching for the proverbial Comments button on here. Why couldn’t we get Butland some have said. That’s the Butland who let one through his legs on Saturday, just imagine the fume. Cech? First Arsenal game, two massive errors. And I could go on. Over the course of the season, Howard will get better and better, and rather than wishing for someone we haven’t got, and not going to get as RM doesn’t want to buy a ‘keeper, let’s support Howard and cheer his name to the rusting rafters of The Old Lady, because of all the players on the pitch who you don’t want to have suffer a bout of lost confidence, it’s your Goalkeeper. In our case, a ‘keeper who barely a year ago was keeping out the world’s finest with a series of unbelievable performances in the World Cup, who now has Barack Obama on speed dial, and who then became a figurehead for the negative fans of how Everton marketeers were failing to capitalise on the US market! He’s a good keeper and let’s get behind him (ooh, that’s a thought….). Well, not literally, that’s the players jobs, and yes, continue to perform heroics, but if you could just get a teensy weensy bit closer to your near post, that’d be dandy, thank you.
Another maligned player in recent times is Gareth Barry. Once again, more groans than cheers as his name is announced, and a little murmuring when he ever made a mistake, which frankly wasn’t very often, and to my record was first recorded of any significance in the 91st minute. Anyway, it’s helpful watching the game in the Upper Gwladys with one of my best mates, who just so happens to be a City fan, so arguably more objective about our players than most. He felt Barry had a cracking game, and was our Man of the Match. There you go. And frankly, I’d agree. Someone wrote that Silva “gave him the runaround”, which is a fair opinion, but an incorrect interpretation. Barry was indeed running around next to or close to Silva all 90 minutes, and that was his brief – let the Spanish artist feel your breath on his neck every time he gets the ball, and get him to ship it early rather than having time to dwell on the ball. Silva was good, he always is, but he wasn’t as influential as he was against Chelsea, and as a result, we were very much in the game up to 60 minutes, which is more than the Classless Louts from Stamford Bridge were the week before against City. Add to that, Barry won an awful lot of headers to clear danger, plus of course a header cleared off the line, and the ability to find the space for the other players to pass to him if they need a release ball. Another one to cheer please if you get a moment, because again, some nervous mutterings whenever he picks the ball up in front of the back 4, is not a place to cause you to panic and misplace a pass. Yes, Barry had a dreadful patch after he came back (too early) from injury last year, but I think he’s been imperious in the 3 games so far this season.
Thankfully, the Barkley and Lukaku boo-ers have had to vent their spleen elsewhere as they’ve turned in 2/3 excellent performances at this early stage of the season, that have also included a couple of goals each. Let’s keep supporting these two, because we need them at the top of their game. It was noticeable how City focused their numbers around the ball whenever these two were in possession, and I read today that Barkley “made more take-ons” than any other player on the pitch, Everton Blue or light blue. But inevitably we focus on his final ball, which of course needs improving, but it did last week for Rom, did again this week for the disallowed goal, but surely to God we want him driving at the centre of opposition defences that creates the space for other players to run into, that hopefully Rom will pass to more consistently.
There, I’ve said my piece, and no, I don’t mind being a hypocrite sometimes, and yes, I will have a moan and a groan sometimes after awful performances where accentuating the positives would be like trying to push water up hill. But I’d rather hope that I come out broadly more positive than some of the doom-mongers you can read on social media. If you think it’s happy clapping and it’s not for you, then no doubt you’ll stop reading stuff like this, in which case, thanks for getting this far, and don’t just not forget your medication, you may need to increase it. Life’s too short.