There are times when a defeat assumes even more significance than the norm. If you’ve read some ‘analysts’ on twitter, you’d be forgiven for thinking yesterday’s defeat was one of those. In my humble opinion, it wasn’t.
Let’s be clear, we were awful. We hardly mustered any shots on target, some might say none, we didn’t look like we could create anything at all, and we seemed powerless to stop endless assaults on our goal from an impressive Chelsea side, reports of whom’s death seems somewhat exaggerated.
What we desperately needed was someone like Willian. Not Just Willian, but literary references aside, he’d have been a start. Perhaps a Barkley at the top of his powers? Maybe, but doubt it.
Koeman quite clearly was starved of the resources he already has, let alone those that he craves. The shouts for a striker are fair, but a striker even of Lukaku’s goal-scoring pedigree would have cut a forlorn figure at Stamford Bridge, as the strikers we did have (I use the term loosely) were starved of the ball.
What we clearly lacked were Schneiderlin, a marauding RB like Coleman (or dare I suggest Kenny), a creative spark maybe like Barkley, but certainly someone out wide like Bolassie, and the industry of a Klaassen, and maybe a traditional back 4 without Williams who appears to be on something of an inexorable decline if some observers are to be believed. But we didn’t have these injured or suspended soldiers and some will continue to be out for some time. We lacked a top notch striker, we lacked a creative spark like a Willian or a Fabregas, and maybe another CB to partner Keane.
But we also lacked something else, something less tangible than a player, but we lacked it nevertheless. Ambition.
Starved of the players he wants, for whatever reason, it felt to me that Koeman set out to “avoid defeat” and that’s something most Blues can’t abide. We’d much rather lose ‘having a go’ than waiting for the inevitable as it seemed yesterday. It was bizarre that the last 10 minutes of the game, maybe when Chelsea had relaxed, represented our best spell, probably our only spell when we looked half decent on the ball. It seems we weren’t set up for success, or even that we felt some kind of success was possible. Is that how we are going to approach Spurs and United as well? You might as well give them the points now, and we can be spared the long, slow torture with the inevitable result. So for me, the biggest thing we lacked was the positive mindset, a belief that we would get something from the game (not “could”, but that we “would”). Chelsea might have been a bit nervous given their last outing at home, and maybe, just maybe, they’d have been taken out of their stride by a tram having a real go at them. That’s why Burnley won, that and because it was the first game of the season, but I can’t believe visitors like Huddersfield, Bournemouth or even Watford, let alone the so-called Top 6 (5 minus Chelsea) will surrender as meekly as we did yesterday. Chelsea impressive? Yes. Made too easy for them? Double Yes.
So we could pack up now and read something else, or just watch the darts. But hang on, where’s that perspective gone that I hinted about earlier? We’ve played 3 PL games, won one, lost one, drawn one; we’ve played two qualifying/play off ties in the Europa League, and we’re in the Group stage; we’ve signed 7 players for the first team already; we’ve signed another fair few “for the future” as well; we’ve got 6 of our victorious U23 squad out on loan in the Championship, learning how to become first team players next season (or proving they can’t, also a bonus); and we’re still in the Carabao Cup……
Players are the assets we can see, so there’s a temptation to focus on these alone. If we get ourselves the assets we want and the Magnificent 7 becomes the Ocean’s 11 (forgive me the exaggeration to get in the film references), then with time, we’ll be a force; we may be a second half of the season force to allow for everyone to gel, with little time to do the gelling whilst there are PL games, EL fixtures all over Europe, Carabao Cup games if we can overcome Sunderland, but maybe a run from January onwards will get us the silverware and the momentum we need to make even greater strides next season.
Right, stop frothing at the mouth – I’ve not given up on this season yet, 3 whole games in – I’m just offering a view that says we’re building, it’s a project as we know, and the excitement of signings, new stadium and obvious improvements in off field matters like our Commercial deals, does not mean success right here, right now, much though the Millennial generation is geared to such immediacy.
Those of us that have been around a little longer, and this season marks my 50th as an Everton supporter, know that good things come to those that wait. It’s just that we’ve been waiting for quite some time now….