There’s something going on. There’s something going wrong. I just can’t work them out.
No Everton fan I’ve listened to, read, or watched can fathom it out. I like to consider myself as a reasonable bloke, with a sense of perspective, and a certain dose of realism as the Club, and it’s team, progresses forward under new ownership and new management towards the promised land. I didn’t expect Champion’s League qualification this season, even (remember?) when we had the chance to go top once in a very short while ago, as I see this as a season of growth from the chaos of where we were last year, and the start of yet more new foundations for a different future. But whilst I retain many of those elements, I’m not sure I expected 3 Away defeats on the spin, nor, more fundamentally, the nature of those defeats, a nature not wholly assuaged by a measly point at home against the then Bottom side.
Spineless. No energy. Clueless. And more. Many more.
Balls lobbed in to the box towards a previously secure defence, once the second best in the League in terms of goals conceded, now resembles the Keystone Cops defence of the Martinez era. An apparent lack of creative spark despite a first team squad containing England’s ‘next big thing’, an abundance of tricky wingers, and some of the best U23 talent we’ve had for many a year. And a main striker who just a few weeks ago was looking unplayable, now looks like someone you wouldn’t play at all, if you had someone better than Enner Valencia on the bench. Or Kone. Or Niasse.
We’re in a rut so deep it resembles the Mariana Trench. And yet, perhaps emphasising the paucity of talent below the Top 5, we are still in 7th place. Would you have accepted 7th place by the end of November before this season started? Probably. Would you accept it after the start we had? No, definitely.
So what’s gone wrong? Is it our perspective that needs altering, or is it more at the feet of the players and Manager alike? Probably both, but a lot more of the latter than the former. The same players that excelled have now got such a lack of confidence, that we look like a Bottom 3 side, not a side in theory at least chasing a European place. No amount of recovery on Sunday against United will change what we’re seeing, even if, in the most unlikely of foreseeable scenarios we actually go and win that game. We’re not just in a rut, I think we’re actually in a hole. In fact, a whole lot of trouble.
Many are demanding wholesale squad changes come January, but we know that January isn’t the advisable time to make wholesale changes, even if the desire is there, because players are either not made available or come at an exorbitant cost. I’m afraid that today my glass is half empty, but at least it’s AFTER the game, not the wave of negativity that had us losing against Southampton before we’d even kicked off; how does that help? The worst thing about Sunday, was that the Negatives won, and the largely Optimistics lost – far more heavily than a mere 1-0 scoreline. Changes are a must, but maybe we should look to the squad for those changes. Is it time to drop Barkley, so poor and out of form this season that a rest on the bench for a few games would probably help? Play Mirallas there instead, or maybe even Deulofeu? What about Davies instead of Barry, and I’m a Barry loyalist, but his passing was so awry yesterday that I can say it’s the worst I’ve seen him play. Maybe Holgate in the Back Four, but certainly him or Mori for the all-at-sea Jagielka. I’m not sure that Baines is playing any better than Oviedo was, fitness notwithstanding, so why persist? We need some new energy, and it could be a couple of months before someone – anyone – comes in from outside to provide it.
And let’s look at Ronald Koeman. I think he’s a good manager, and he’s proven that. But what is he doing or NOT doing that causes his Everton team to be so lacklustre from the very start, and only breaking a sweat in the second half (and yesterday it was only the second half of the second half)? We joked that Everton couldn’t get off to as slow a start as we did against Swansea, and blow me, 45 seconds later we were losing, and by that stage we hadn’t even had time to play poorly, as a comical rebound and a shanked goal attempt landed perfectly on the nut of the last player bought by Koeman before he left the Sunny South Coast before transferring to the Brutal North West. Right I said, that’ll be the rocket up the proverbial we need, we’ll win this 3-1. Shows how wrong I was.
Today I am awash with negativity, some might even say realism. “At last”, some will say, “he’s seen the light”.
At the moment, I’m not sure if that light is the end of the tunnel, or a train coming in the opposite direction.