The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Browning. And Galloway. And Mori. And Lukaku. And Deulofeu. And McCarthy. And Coleman. And Besic. And Stones. And Barkley. And I could go on. Apologies to Orange there…
I thought Browning was exceptional on Sunday. His CV reads rather impressively, as his first team EPL appearances have been against Liverpool twice, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Swansea and West Brom. Only one of those sides were straightforward for him, but I guess it won’t always be that way against Chelsea! Whilst his fellow ‘kid status’ full back on the left has been getting most of the rave reviews, with justification, Browning has got on with his job with quiet assurance, and has really grown in to his position. I can’t quite believe what I’m seeing with this back 4, with or without Stones, and whilst they clearly need to do their bit to ensure Howard isn’t exposed at corners, we have to revel in the immense talents we are watching develop in front of our eyes.
Take Tyias. He’s not a massive lad, not quite in the Zouma or Sakho mould, but what he lacks in looking like a brick outhouse, he more than makes up for in mobility, anticipation, and no little strength. I can’t remember which RS player it was, but as Browning was shepherding the ball out of play by the goal line, said Red tried to outmuscle the lad, and simply bounced off him. They breed them tough up in Liverpool clearly, as Can found out when he famously tried to shove Barkley yesterday and found him immovable, as if his legs were set in concrete. Browning has some big boots to fill, and it won’t be long until Seamus resumes his starting berth (and we know RM will do this as soon as the Irish Messi is fit again, like he did last season with other ‘stand-ins’ that had played out of their skin and arguably had done enough to keep their place: Garbutt, Besic, Joel), but a player like Browning is just going to get better and better, and given he was playing at RB rather than his preferred CB position, we have to appreciate his talents as a natural defender, irrespective of where in the back line he actually slots in. He may feel a bit hacked off to lose his place to Coleman, but (if you’re reading this Ty) this is the start of one hell of a career so patience is indeed a virtue. Maybe a short term loan in the Championship might help? Perhaps.
I gave many plaudits to Browning’s fellow defender in Ramiro Funes Mori last week, urging patience and support for a young lad clearly finding his feet in England, let alone in the Premier League; those who slagged him off after his one (albeit glaring) mistake against West Brom, were eating Humble Pie yesterday (talking of which, I’ve lost about a stone in weight since the Steak Pie from the Upper Gwladys yesterday, draw your own conclusions…) after a masterclass in defending from the Argentinian International. There were fewer risks taken, a couple of Row Z moments, and a couple of lump it up to the Big Lad moments too, all appropriate given the circumstances; he’s clearly learnt from what happened at the Hawthorns.
Talking of “lump it up to the Big Lad”, my goodness, wasn’t the Big Lad a handful? OK, Anichebe used to be a handful too, but that was largely because of his bulk and his ability to hold the ball up and tread on defender’s toes . But Lukaku yesterday used his considerable strength to receive the ball, back to goal, surrounded by Liverpool defenders, and not just lay it back, but also turn, or make himself some space and turn, and then drive at the defence. He was immense. We love this Rom, we’re not so bothered about the half-arsed Rom, in fact seeing how he can play, makes us wonder why he doesn’t do it week in and week out. Yes, that would be lovely. But just think about yourself, are you ‘up for it’ every time you go to work/college/school? Don’t say “well he should be up for it as a multi millionaire” and “we’re paying his wages and spending a lot of our money to watch him”. He is a human just like us, slightly better built than most of us, and probably a bit more talented at the game that he loves, but human nevertheless, and we all have our ‘on’ and our ‘off’ days. My suspicion is that he finds it easier to get himself going for Man Utd at home and Arsenal away (hopefully), rather than home to Bournemouth, but I think I’d rather he was a beast for the big games, and perhaps just ‘average’ when he’s playing at his worst. He’ll score us 20+ goals in the League this season I think, and for me, that’s marvellous. If he gets us 30 he’ll have proven me wrong in a good way, but I can’t see him scoring less than 20, and we just need the other chaps to do their bit as well. We could do with Kev coming back on song and scoring his customary 10, although he’ll have to try and stay on the pitch a tad longer than his last cameo.
I left the ground feeling a bit deflated, as many of us have already said or written, as we should have won that game. But somehow the final ball wasn’t quite there, and in all honesty, the RS did defend well and deep late on as they clung on to their point, and we couldn’t create the clear-cut chance. But what really gets my goat is the comment someone made, all too loudly, as the Upper Gwladys emptied. “A draw is better than a defeat” he shouted. Yeh, technically, correct. But for me this sums up a negative outlook on what Everton could have and should have achieved on Sunday, and what we should achieve this season. We need to think of that as 2 points lost not 1 point gained, and whilst we’re at it not worry more about who we were playing yesterday, than the fact that it was a game of football we needed to win and get a maximum. As it happens, we did play well enough yesterday to prove to ourselves as a Club, and more importantly as a set of players, that we have a better side than Liverpool, and we can take it to all sides and win. We need to take that attitude in to the game against the RS at the end of February at their place, not suffering from any kind of inferiority complex, and not worrying about ‘how long it is since we’ve won there’ (all records come to an end – e.g. Swansea will beat us one day in the league), but take it as any other game, a tactical plan built around our strengths and our ability to exploit an opposition’s weaknesses. We have to BELIEVE, and not crowing about knowing our history, but focusing more on creating the history that our Grandchildren might dwell on in the future whilst we push for another League title and a Champion’s League tilt. It’s not about ’tilting at windmill’s’, and it’s not about not being grounded, it’s about having a realistic outlook on what we’re capable of achieving; I reckon if we played City now we’d give them a very different game to the the one they dominated at ours in August, and that’s because the confidence is there for us to play our game, and knothole any kind of inferiority complex. Measured chickens, not headless ones.
The Future is indeed very, very bright, and not just because we’ve got a great young squad – they’re also very, very good at what they do.