There’s something quite irritating when you’ve won a blood and guts quarter final, and all the media and the phone-ins want to talk about is something that didn’t actually happen. So I’m not adding to it.
Instead, let’s focus on the positives. No, let’s focus on the positives I said. Two rows behind me in the Gwladys, a couple spent the entire game up to the 78th minute moaning about how terrible Everton were, how individual players were dreadful, how the tactics were all wrong (one classic: “we’ve got no width”, as Lukaku picked the ball up out wide on the left), how the Manager wants sacking, how the Club is being mismanaged from the top down. I do wonder why people like this bother buying a season ticket, and certainly why they bother coming to the game. Go home, moan about Everton whilst you’re watching the Telly, and only upset your poor family, not the hundreds of us around you that might want a little more “support” amongst our “supporters”.
After about an hour, another bloke pipes up describing Lukaku as “just lazy, he’s sh** him”. I’d had enough. I turned round and shouted back that he’d scored 18 PL goals this season, but apparently I should now “fu** off and mind my own business”. A little later, we shook hands and embraced as the apparently lazy Lukaku had buried Chelsea with one if not two of the finest strikes seen at The Old Lady in many a year. Perhaps my errant friend wants to watch players like Big Denis Stracqualursi who run all day and are then so knackered they can’t tap in from 5 yards.
No, let’s not dwell either on the callers to Radio Merseyside. I may have missed the positive ones as I walked back to the car, instead I got the caller that wanted to talk about Barry’s stupidity in getting sent off. Yes, that’s the thing to focus on. Callers or Radio editors, get the focus right. Only, there we are again on 606 – focusing on the story of someone who didn’t do something, not the story of the team that won, with an outstanding centre forward performance.
We did win didn’t we?
The atmosphere in the streets outside the ground were amazing. the songs being sung, the hoarse voices, the sore throats, as the Gwladys, the Park End, the Main Stand, and, well, most of the Bullens disgorged its temporary community back from whence it had come. A singing, smiling and happy throng, who only wanted to be positive. After all, we won, and we’re on our way to Wembley. Again.
And they were made happy, myself included, by a more practical approach to a game of football, that showed that Martinez and his merry men are more than capable of defending after the car crash that was West Ham (apparently we let 27 crosses in to our box from open play against the Hammers; I don’t have a benchmark, but that sounds rather a lot). The defence rarely wobbled, apart from when Fabregas put Costa through and the striker managed to narrowly avoid the outstretched penalty-giving leg of Funes Mori before narrowly avoiding the goal as the ball trickled across the line and away. We were all looking for Frank to bang it home, but perhaps those days have gone. The bite (sorry) in the tackle from our defenders was astonishing in its intensity, made more so by its absence for much of this season, let’s do it again until the end of May. Barry was outstanding, offering that little bit of snide we’ve missed a bit this season from him. McCarthy, forever buzzing around, closing down, getting the ball and giving it to someone more able to spring a pass. Barkley, a languid first half, but a more spritely second half (enough to get himself in to Garth Crooks’ team of the weekend, so he can retire now at the pinnacle of his career), and two assists. Cleverley, out wide left most but not all of the time, another of the closing-down brigade, and the only man to shoot on the Chelsea goal in the first half. I think it’s only a matter of time before that lad starts scoring a hat-full of goals. The intrusive and obnoxious Lennon, yes, that’s right, constantly intruding on Chelsea parties and making himself deeply unpopular with Kenedy (who would do better in life if he spelt his name properly) and the rest of the Chelsea backline, another requisite performance from the little man. And then Lazy Old Lukaku. Who is nothing of the sort. He is a brilliant striker, the 25 goals for us already this season proves that, even if he doesn’t get another one all season; his strength, his growing close control, and his maturing in to a classic all round Everton Centre Forward that doesn’t run around like a demented chicken, but chooses his moments and then explodes. I’ll be the first to say he can improve, but then what 22 year old can’t? Mind you, he’s scored 93 top flight goals plus 11 for his national team, so God help defenders when that improvement happens.
We won, celebrate, it starts again on Saturday as we aim to get this excellent team to perform consistently to its capability, and then on to who knows what. We can dream, but at least the dreams are based on reality, not fanciful notions.
PS This wasn’t really Obstructed View cos I don’t do Cup games. Honest.