Judging by his facial expression, Gylfi is a little bit scared of Tom.
And who wouldn’t be? Could be worse, he could have been set on by all the Everton Tyros…..
Jon Moss looking all the ‘tutting parent’ here, or the teacher about to put someone in detention, but is spoilt for choice, so put’s the whole class in. Git. Not that I’m saying that’s stirred up all sorts of nasty memories for me, but put it like this: if there was a major hoo-ha at my school, and the teachers couldn’t work out whodunnit, they resorted to picking on the Ginger Kid, and if I kicked off, the whole class copped for it, which of course made me ‘terribly’ popular…..
What fun we had watching our kids, not long out of short trousers themselves, squaring up to their elders but certainly not betters, but certainly biggers. Not sure Leroy Fer and Jonjoe Kenny will be exchanging Christmas Cards this year, or whatever the Under 30s do at Christmas these days, but it added a bit of [mulled wine] spice to an otherwise dull old encounter, that actually failed to ignite anyone’s candle until Davies was introduced at the expense of the lethargic and ineffective Schneiderlin. Our Morgan had a bit of a ‘mare, admittedly not the only one on the night, but play like that on Saturday, and he’ll be all Christmas leftovers for January, and you can always find a home for leftovers in the Relegation-Threatened Table in places like Stoke or even Swansea. He was very poor. Whilst Allardyce has energised the likes of Rooney and (especially) Williams, he doesn’t appear to have lit any fires in our man from the Alsace. If Morgan had been born about 20 miles to the East, he’d have been German, but at the moment, he’s showing none of their characteristics but all those of a languid Frenchman, relaxing after a long lunch and a glass or two of Burgundy (other great French wines are available, see me for details…., at least those I can remember).
Let’s be clear – Schneiderlin is a top notch footballer, you don’t get 15 caps for the French National Team without being half-able to kick a football, even, dare I say it, forwards from time to time. But boy-oh-boy has he lost his edge this season. Bar a handful of performances, and I’m being generous here because I can’t name the actual games, but I do remember saying he’d played well, his lack of urgency, lack of tackling, and lack of any kind of impact passing is a real source of concern for many. He’s a Rolls Royce kind of player, gliding over the turf, but just like the RR, when you need to put your foot down and escape the knob from [insert your least favourite area here] who’s up your proverbial in his suped-up Subaru (with no apologies to suped-up Subaru drivers), there appears to be no immediate twitch on the accelerator, and the odd nice turn and sideways pass, isn’t getting the team moving forward. He’s there to protect the back 4, but he’s also there to start attacks; Barry did this pretty well, and we miss his calm influence whilst Gana (excellent again last night) goes hunting balls and shins. The trouble is, unless we ask Davies to play there like for like, we don’t have an obvious ready made replacement. Baningime? Could be ok, certainly worth a shout, and God help us would even bring the average age down still further. Schneiderlin, however, needs to up his game, and my bet is that he – and Allardyve, know that. We await the Chelsea game with more than a little interest in that regard.
BBC Radio Merseyside’s post match phone in was it’s usual, shall we say, “quirky” self, with the odd mix of incoherent and unintelligible. One suggestion is that we need to buy someone at the back – Charlie Austin was his suggestion. Think he may have drunk all Santa’s sherry. But there’s also an undercurrent expressed last night on the phones, that if this is Allardyce’s style of play, exhibited last night for over an hour, then some don’t want it. Right. Let me just check. We want free-flowing expansive football as well as defensive solidity, but we don’t want Martinez or his type, we don’t want Koeman and his pragmatic approach, and now some don’t want Allardyce’s brand of football because it’s all “long ball”.
No it isn’t. It wasn’t pretty at all last night in a turgid first half, and I really mean turgid, but Davies’ introduction sparked a level of urgency previously unseen, but also showed what we can do. The move up to the second penalty (we usually get two pens a decade, now I’m describing two in one game) was backwards, forwards, switching channels, switching wings, until a neat interchange led to the stonewall trip outside the box that an unbelievably generous Moss adjudged to have occurred inside it.
It’s not pretty, but it’s effective. Look at the league table, and tell me you’d rather be playing like we were and in or around the relegation battle, or just two wins off Spurs in 6th? If it’s providing a bedrock, a foundation, on which we build a more attractive but also sustainable brand of football, then I can bear to watch dross like that first hour so long as we win. Reminiscing about the ‘School of Science’ is all very well, but beware if it ends up being like eulogising newspapers when the kids are all reading the news on-line. If we can play like the SoS once was (for the sake of argument let’s say the mid 80s), brought up to the modern day environment and opposition tactics, and we win, then I’m all for it.
This may sound like heresy, but before I’m despatched to the [Prince Rupert] Tower amidst calls for my head on a platter (curiously not on the ‘spoons Christmas menu), let me be clear. I DO NOT want to watch that style of football from last night every single week for the rest of my Evertonian life. I DO want to watch thrilling one touch interplay and strikers banging in 30 goals a season, but only if we can do that whilst opponents comply and keel over. We have to be honest and say that the lot across the park are playing like their former Landlords and were once revered, but come up against a resilient and feisty rearguard, and they’ve sometimes been found wanting, and are 18 points off the top and even 7 off second. We need to be able to grind out results for now, and hope that either Allardyce, or a replacement lined up in a darkened room in Watford or Donetsk or similar, has a plan that can defend and attack in equally thrilling manner.
In the meantime, we have 13 points from the last 15 under a combo of Unsworth and Allardyce, and I’ll take that every day of the week. For now.