Only another 3 Obstructed Views to go after this one. Keep going, keep going….
At 63 minutes I turned to my son, and said “whatever happens from this point on, we’ve played really well for over an hour and held the Champions Elect. They’ve only had a couple of chances, and so have we.”
Just 3 minutes later, and we’re one down. A further 20 minutes and Willian taps the third in to an empty net in front of a half empty stadium. As they say: “well, that escalated quickly”.
I’ve thought long and hard about the emptying of the seats, which started at 2-0, and turned a tide in to a tsunami of exiting fans by the time Willian had celebrated in front of the meff fans in the Bullens. Personally, I never leave a game before the end. It’s a lot of money for a couple of season tickets and commuting from Nottingham, so I need to get my money’s worth frankly, but I also don’t quite get the ‘beat the traffic’ ethic; in fairness, yesterday it was probably less about getting a few cars in front of me on the East Lancs, more a reluctance to watch Chelsea celebrating an inevitable PL title in front of a full Goodison Park. But also, and probably more accurately, a real sense of disappointment pervaded when the excellent Pedro’s shot beat Stekelenburg all ends up, and the inevitable defeat loomed in to view after more than holding our own for over 70% of the game to that point. I was incensed by media reports later that Chelsea “completed a comfortable win” at Goodison, because I think that’s far from their own assessment, and was probably written by someone who hadn’t watched the game, and just looked at a 3-0 scoreline and assumed it was indeed an easy ride.
If Calvert-Lewin’s snap shot had been an inch or tow to the right of the post he clattered in the first minute, then it may have gone straight in, or luckily bounced in off Courtois, but no. The better team won, no doubt, but we can be proud of what we achieved. The strength of the respective first XIs was daunting enough, let alone seeing Fabregas and Willian come on as Subs, whilst we brought on Kone. Not much of a comparison. Our best team isn’t as good as Chelsea – fact. Our squad isn’t anywhere near as strong as theirs either – fact. We may hate it, and we may hate how they’ve become the new kids on the blocks after Russian investment all that time ago, but as a statement of reality, they’re what we aspire to, and haven’t got close to matching. We did fine for large slugs of the match, and certainly can be proud of that first hour or so, even if bitterly disappointed with the half hour that followed. And that probably explains the emptying arena, and the dog’s abuse that half the team got on social media after the match, and continues as I write.
The usual suspects cop for it, Lukaku (who is lazy and doesn’t sprint 10km every game, so let’s look forward to Ayew next season then); Barkley (with some keyboard warriors echoing the sentiment if not the racism about his game intelligence); Williams (past it); Stekelenburg (need a new No1) etc etc. But with some surprise, Dominic Calvert-Lewin is also “not good enough” to wear the Blue shirt.
DCL (sorry, saves time) is a kid. He’s 20. He’s broken in to the first team after being transferred from a League 1 side. He’s learning. He’s also got great legs (speed wise, I mean, not an admirer of their aesthetic beauty), moves well, and did a job yesterday doing something that isn’t necessarily his preferred role in the team. My theory is that RK is using these dying minutes of the Premier League season (a season in which we’ve qualified for Europe and briefly threatened breaking in to the Sky 6 if not higher, not bad eh?) to give the lad, and Davies too, invaluable experience to build on for next season and beyond. He isn’t anywhere near the quality of the Big Lad alongside him, either now, or when he was the same age, but there aren’t many if any who are or were, but what we have is a likeable, personable lad who has been bought for the future and doesn’t deserve the flak he’s been getting these past 24 hours. Support him and make him better rather than sack him off until you have just cause. Depending on the summer ahead, he may be a loanee next season, crafting his skills in the Championship or at a team promoted to the PL (he’d be a great fit at Brighton from what I’ve seen), but he’s a talent for the future not the here and now. Do what we do when Davies has a wobble. Back him.
There seems little point wasting keyboard time on the will they/won’t they debate about Rom and Ross, I’m now at the stage of saying what will be will be. Love to keep them, but happy to bag the ££s if they go. Would prefer to build around them, continuity and all that, and given we have to administer team surgery from back to front in the XI, it might be better if it wasn’t ‘all change’ but suspect we aren’t in control of our own destiny on this one. Sit back and wait to watch us compete with City/Arsenal/United who need replacements at the number/level that we do, and Chelsea/Liverpool/Spurs that need a few extra top notch players. An interesting summer awaits.
In the meantime, can I respectfully suggest we get behind the squad we’ve got? Go on, you know you love them all really….