One thing I’ve come to realise is that football fans generally seem to be most vocal on social media when there’s something negative to say. We “hate your club”, “your player should be banned because he hurt our player”, and then there’s the perennial issue amongst Evertonians of the perils of the team from across the park.
This was brought in to stark relief as twitter awaited the outcome of the Capital One draw last night, with confident predictions of meeting Liverpool in the semi finals but second leg away; of the RS getting a last minute penalty; or even more confident predictions of us getting Stoke and losing to Liverpool at Wembley; and so it went on. And then of course the draw pairs us with Man City, cue more portents of doom, and so it goes on still.
Why? Are we alone in this? What are Stoke fans saying today about drawing Liverpool? My bet is a sizeable majority will be relishing the challenge, whereas a sizeable majority of Evertonian posts I read last night and so far this morning, have effectively dumped us out of the Cup before we’ve even got on the pitch.
I just don’t get it. Surely this pessimism isn’t lost on the players, and it can hardly drive a ‘can do’ mentality can it? Now I’ve been a Blue for almost 50 years, so don’t tell me that I’ve not been burnt by false optimism in the past, but neither have I been unconditionally pessimistic. What I do know is that this Everton team has the makings of a great team, and if it continues to develop as it is doing, we will win a trophy, of that I’m certain. It may well be this year, it may not. But it will happen. Man City are probably the best team in Britain right now (sorry Leicester), but that’s only true ‘on their day’. This is the same team that lost 1-4 at home to Liverpool, the same team that tamely lost to Juventus, the same team held 0-0 by no less than Aston Villa (who we beat 4-0 in their next game), but yes the same team that beat us 0-2 at Goodison when we suffered from stage fright in my opinion.
The best chance we have is belief.
Belief that in Lukaku, Deulofeu, and Barkley we have an attack that most defences will be worried about, especially City’s.
Belief that in Stones we have the best Centre Back in Britain and one of the best in Europe.
Belief that in Baines and Coleman we have the best full back pairing around.
Belief that our fans at Goodison will make the place a cauldron on a cold January night.
And belief that our fans will out-sing the ‘singing section’ at the Etihad, and will cheer every touch of the ball by a Royal Blue foot.
Of course, we have to be realistic. As I said last night to a fellow Blue, there’s no value to be gained by going at City like the brave lads did on the Somme in 1916 and getting slaughtered. But a smart tactical display by the team, led by a manager who occasionally (Arsenal at home in 13/14 for example) pulls off a tactical masterstroke, could genuinely see us return to Wembley for a tilt at trophy that I for one believe we can win. Whether we play Stoke or Liverpool. If we want to win a trophy, we have to beat the best teams around. And not just Barnsley.