Obstructed View – Reflections on the WBA (A) Game

Right, hands up everyone who said Kone was finished? Hands up, come on, you know who you are……and I include myself, but oh such a sweet response by the amiable Ivorian this season. If you haven’t watched his interview with Our Darren/Dazza on Everton TV, then your week is not even nearly complete. His English is dreadful, but then so is my French, but he certainly understood Darren’s bewildering array of questions and I understood 73% of his answers. And he smiles throughout.

Geri and Arouna

Kone was part architect of the Everton recovery against West Brom which frankly made it look like Lazarus only had a heavy cold. And I’m talking the Biblical Lazarus, not the Rochdale striker, or the former QPR winger for those who go back to the 70s. Anyway, unlike me, but I digress. Yes, a fantastic recovery, after a first half of the most diabolical football ever to have graced the Sky screens on a Monday night, so poor that the Director found more entertainment in weird camera angles, even focusing on the ball being kicked at a West Brom corner, and other distractions that meant we TV viewers were spared all but the last few seconds of the, ahem, build up to the Baggie’s first goal. More on that shortly, but even after the half time Oranges (I always got the one with all the pips and once nearly choked on my ‘refreshment’) Everton seemed to a man to be still somewhere on the M6, most likely eating pasties (with sauce) at Knutsford Services. It took a second goal from WBA to inject a little pace and urgency in to this lethargic Everton team…..and 30 minutes later we were defending an unlikely 3-2 lead and holding our breath as Lambert (remember him?) was sizing up the best chance to score since he went to his first school disco. Scoring 3 against a side who hadn’t conceded 1 in the League for more or less 6 hours was a major achievement, and for that side to be a Pulis side, made that a monumental conquest. No wonder he was spitting feathers at the end.

I think it’s best to switch Twitter off during a game. I casually glanced at it just after the first goal, and sure enough the vocal minority were either slamming Funes Mori, or Barry, or both. Now I understand the negativity some have towards Barry (actually, I don’t, I think he gets an awful press from half the Blues, and a glowing report from the other half, but at least no one sits on the fence), or at least I’m not surprised about it – just disappointed as he has excelled for the vast majority of his time at our Club, but yeh, he cocked up with a misplaced pass. I’ll leave the Barry debate for another day, but just drop this photo in for those of you with short memories:

26947

But what I don’t understand is the Funes Fume. I’m prepared to bet that 99% of Everton fans had never heard of him before August, but because Tim Vickery, a notable and learned professor of South American football (no, I mean that, not being sarcastic) says that he doesn’t rate him and he’s a bit prone to the odd mistake, it’s as if some Blues are just waiting for that rix, and when it comes they jump on the lad’s back. Let’s agree that it was his mistake that led to the goal, and after that he tended to lump it forward earlier, so he shows he’s learning; but let’s also agree that he’s 25, new to Premier League football, has played 15 minutes of it before his first League start yesterday, is conscious that Stones is waiting in the proverbial wings (even though he could probably play there too) and was therefore trying really hard, if not a bit too hard, to impress. They had to surgically remove the previously impressive Rondon from his pocket when the big Venezuelan was subbed after 69′ (this is the guy that scored 1 in 2 for Zenit), and yet some will remember his error and go on about it ad nauseam rather than the tricky dispossessing of Rondon and the nutmeg that followed in the left defensive corner just after half time. The lad shows class, he’s great in the air, not bad on the floor either, and, just a reminder, he plays Centre Back for Argentina. That’s Argentina. Let’s give the lad time, like we normally do for new players, especially the ones we’ve never heard of, and judge him at the end of the season. Let’s build his confidence not get on his back.

There were times last night when I started to shout at the TV (not an unusual event in my house, either if Everton are playing, or if I’m forced to watch any of the so-called Saturday evening entertainment of Strictly or X Factor) at young Deulofeu to go outside his man, the lumbering and not-a-usual-left-back Chris Brunt. In the first half he skinned him a couple of times, but for some reason he seemed reluctant to do it in the second half. But then I worked out why. Geri’s first half defence-splitter that Barkley contrived to trip over with the goal gaping, was placed from a diagonal to the penalty area, and was impossible to defend as he got his angles spot on. Then, when we’re 2-0 down, he’s on the ball, “go outside him” I shouted, followed swiftly by “oh” as he crosses perfectly from a similar angle to the first half and Rom nods it in. Shows how much I know, or more appropriately shows how shouting at a TV screen when sat 60 miles away from the actual game is a fairly pointless exercise. And then 30′ later and Geri does it again, and Rom bundles the ball in from an undefendable cross. Given he’s officially an inch taller than Arteta according to Wiki (can’t be, looks half the size), it makes it hard to say it, but Geri must now be the “Best Little Spaniard We Know” even if his name doesn’t quite scan as it would need to if we were to substitute his name in our once favourite song. We’ll just have to stick to “he’s magic you know…” even if we can’t all agree how to scan in his name in that either. How hard can it be to get 35000+ fans to sing exactly the same? Well done Geri lad, you’ve been making noises about a starting berth, and you may just well have nailed one down for Sunday and probably beyond, and the even better news is that opposition players will be worrying about how to stop these excellent diagonal crosses/passes whilst also not opening up the outside for him to go round and play one of those fizzer balls across the 6 yard area. And whilst they worry about him, that’ll open more space up for others. Exciting times. Options, options…can’t wait for Sunday!

Whilst Kone, Deulofeu, and of course double scorer Lukaku, were the principal architects of the recovery, we would probably have been dead and buried if Galloway hadn’t whipped the ball off Berahino’s toe in that memorable tackle. There is much to be admired at Martinez’s decision to play the youngsters, even if the cynical would point out he’s got little choice in defence at the moment. But Oviedo was on the bench last night so technically able to play one assumes, but Galloway continues to get the nod. Browning is there too rather than a makeshift McCarthy at RB as it was later in the game; and it’s noteworthy that the even younger, and just as impressive, Jonjoe Kenny has been recalled from his loan spell at Wigan where he certainly impressed my long-suffering Wigan-supporting mate, as well as racking up an impressive array of yellow cards. I wonder how far down the pecking order Hibbo will be once he’s fit again? We have an exciting array of young talent, keep an eye out for Gethin Jones too.

Anyway, back to Galloway. He’s lost that bewildered look I’ve mentioned before, and his confidence seems to be increasing with every minute he’s on the pitch. He even had time last night to pat Barry on the back after he’d seen out a dangerous cross for a corner, and he’s almost half his age! As they say, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. What is even more remarkable, and I think I’m right in this, is that Galloway came to us having played less than 10 games for MK Dons in League 1; he’s now playing Premier League football, in defence, having spent no time at all on loan in the Championship. That’s a hell of an achievement right there, and he doesn’t look out of place. We all know he’s on borrowed time at Left Back with Baines return from injury, and Garbutt’s return from loan next Summer, but in Brendan Galloway, we have a ready made left sided Central Defender. If the unthinkable happened, and we lost both Jags and Stones to injury at the same time, we could now stick Galloway, Funes Mori or Browning in to the centre of defence and not have too many sleepless nights (well, not too many…). Frankly, I’d rather have that than Alcaraz or Distin, not forgetting what the big Frenchman did for us in the past, and the emerging pattern of youth and experience at Everton once more looks dead exciting!

And that is enough to get Arouna Kone excited. Hands up who wants to see Arouna excited?

Ross Crombie

during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Everton at The Hawthorns on September 28, 2015 in West Bromwich, United Kingdom.

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