All in all, it was a poor weekend of sport. England lost in a thrilling and incomprehensible final over in the World T20, none of the football teams I “look out for” managed better than a draw, and I was invited and stupidly accepted a friend’s last minute invite to go to watch Forest at the City Ground, and their 3-0 home defeat was one of the worst games of football I’ve ever had the misfortune to watch. And then came 4pm on Sunday.
The Telegraph helpfully posted this amateur graphic to show the simplicity of the only goal we ever looked like conceding, and concede it we certainly did, with a combination of poor defending in the build up play and atrocious defending at the back stick. Man Utd out-Oviedo’d us. Vengeance for them was sweet, let’s hope if we play them at Wembley in the SF, we get a chance for some sweet vengeance, but more importantly that we take it.
Nothing, I repeat nothing, could depress me more about this match. Hang on, I’m wrong, all 11 players could have been abysmal, and credit has to be given to Stones and Jagielka who played really well most of the match, although in fairness hardly had much to do. And for the first 10-15 minutes, Deulofeu skinned his man several times and put a couple of hopeful balls in to the box. Apart from that, nada. Not a thing. Rien. Nichts. Ništa. No fight, no tactics, no flowing football, no clue. I’d say no chances, but Jags banged one on to the bar which he probably should have buried, and his later snap shot was straight at De Gea, but apart from a ball across the 6 yard box from Coleman that Lukaku almost reached, we can’t exactly say “we murdered ’em”. Apparently we had 7 shots all game. Against United. If ever there was a time when we should have exploited their vulnerabilities by playing to our strengths, this was it. 7 shots. Don’t make me laugh (you’ll struggle by the way, I’m not in the mood).
I could give up there. It’s so depressing trying to write stuff when your team, your manager, and even your fellow supporters don’t give you any new material to inspire you. The calls for Martinez to be gone are drowning out anyone with a contrary point of view, and frankly whilst I’ve never been his greatest fan, it’s hard to see how he can survive after this poor season, and that may even be true if he manages to lift the Cup. Frankly, I can’t see us beating either West Ham or Man Utd in the SF if we play like we have the last two games, but if we do, there’s no reason to assume the Final would be a shoo-in against either Palace or Watford, both of whom possess real quality in their ranks and could easily out-muscle and out-skill any Everton side that isn’t up for the fight. And that’s what bugs me more than anything. The fight. Where is it? Where has it gone? Arguably this season we’ve had the skills and the momentum to get us in to winning positions, but the lack of a backbone has seen us turned over to a defeat or to draw, when surely some sense, some tactics, and maybe even some snide, would have seen us home. But now, we seem to have lost the skills as well, and without the fight, we have become a nothing team.
If I’m being generous, I could say that the players have given up. With 38 points we should be safe even if we can’t manage another point. Should. Oh dear….what have I said….?
But perhaps the players think the only thing to play for is a Cup SF and possibly glory beyond. Well, if in the unlikely event any players are reading this, I’ll tell you what you’re playing for, it’s the Blue Shirt of Everton FC, for Nil Satis Nisi Optimum which doesn’t stand for Only The Best Is Good Enough In Games I Can Be Half Arsed In Which To Put In Some Effort, it’s for the legions of fans that follow you home and away, it’s for the kids that hero-worship you when you turn out for EITC events, it’s for the history of the Club, it’s for the badge, it’s for winning every game that you step over that white line for, there’s no point not wanting to win every game, and don’t ask me if I could only have a Cup or more League wins what would it be. I want both. I have every right to expect both. I want the team that turns out for my Club, the Club that I’ve supported for nearly 50 years for God’s sake, to try their damnest every game, and not allegedly save themselves for future games; I want to win. NSNO stands for that, and don’t you ever, EVER, forget it.