Regular readers of Obstructed View will know that I try to look on the positive side of life. I try to live my life with my glass half full. But after this game, even I’m lost for words. Half full my glass may well be, but half full of what? Don’t answer that in print please.
In this image, Howard is pleading with Anthony Taylor in vain. But it’s the sight of Baines in the background, that probably sums up what we were all thinking. What the absolute flying flibberty gibberts has just happened? An over-confident centre back has over-elaborated on the ball, to no benefit other than his own ego, he has then under-hit his pass to an under-prepared goalkeeper, who has dallied in his clearance and succeeds only in booting Ayew 2ft in the air for the most ridiculous penalty award seen this season. Cue social media meltdown as the ‘keeper gets the blame, but Howard wouldn’t even have been involved had Stones done the necessary rather than the unnecessary. There. I’ve said it. I’ve criticised John Stones. I’ll now be drummed out of the club.
In truth, he was pretty awful all game, but he was far from alone. Only Deulofeu, Barry, Besic and Mirallas can escape criticism, and two of those were because they were hardly on the pitch long enough. What Geri must have been thinking after he put delicious cross in after delicious cross only to see no one anticipating what he’s been doing all season, or if they had, to completely fluff the goal attempt, assuming they hit it at all. Barry, seasoned pro that he is, must also have been reading the runes to know this was not going to be our day, probably from the moment Besic rolled one on to the post, followed by his departure, followed swiftly by the daft penalty. And it didn’t deserve to be our day.
Swansea pressed and harried from high up the pitch as others have done before them, but here with more success than others, and whilst their goals had a certain amount of fortune gifted by our own ineptitude or a wicked deflection after a blatant handball, no one can say they didn’t deserve to come away with the points. They were excellent in defence, especially Williams who always seems to save his best for when Royal Blue comes to play, but the greatest credit goes to their game plan once they’d gone ahead for the second time, a game plan we looked absolutely inept in trying to break down, or when we did we had the finishing prowess of me after 9 pints…..and I’m 57. Their pressing succeeded because, and the penalty incident was the stark example, we seemed incapable of passing the ball swiftly to feet, undercutting pass after pass. WTF?
So no complaints as to the result, just the manner of it. Why? Why did we underperform so woefully?
“It would have been different had Besic scored” said one twitter pundit. Yes, but that’s not to say we’d have won. Perhaps we’d have lost by more than 1 goal.
My theory, for what it’s worth, and for whoever really cares, is that we rocked up on Sunday with one eye on a semi final, allied to an opposition that we felt we could roll over simply, given we’d given such strong performances against City and Chelsea. Think again Everton. We want you to win every game, and we want you to beat City on Wednesday, we wanted you to beat Swansea, and we’ll want you to beat Carlisle as well. There aren’t any easy games, and Saturday has got banana skin written all over it, if that’s possible, especially playing on a bog, after the high intensity, win or lose, of a Cup Semi Final.
It is not a week I’m looking forward to. My cup certainly doesn’t runneth over, and it’s not even remotely half full; it’s barely covering the bottom.
But I’ll be right behind you Everton every step of the way, back to Goodison next Wednesday, and all you need to do this next 10 days is prove that Swansea was a blip. An enormous blip.
PS No, I’m not happy.