That was another grisly tale of what might have been. United apparently vulnerable, but allowed the time and space to eventually pick us apart, even if it did take two excellent shots from outside the area to beat the excellent Pickford.
He really is a rather special ‘keeper, and his full length dive to keep out Mata (was it?) by his left post, was particularly impressive. As I’ve said before, if Butland or Hart are better goalkeepers and ahead of him as England’s No1, then I’m the worst judge of football that has ever lived.
But this review isn’t about another eulogy for our lad from Sunderland, even if I’d just like to point out that he only needs another 10 appearances to match the number he turned out for Sunderland, which surprised me, if not you.
No today is all about what might have been. Again. If you believed Jose, you’d have thought United were turning out with their U11s against us. But any side that can bring on Marcus Rashford as a second half sub, and not even use Smalling (however unfit) or Mkhitaryan (however maligned), ‘ain’t a side that deserves too much sympathy, especially as they had a Pogba performing by and large at the peak of his powers last night (well done Holgate for standing up to him btw, another example of the Everton P*ss Boilers R Us that we’re starting to grow to love, plus McCarthy doing his snide bit), offering a glimpse for us of just how far away we are from competing creatively at that level. Nevertheless, in Shaw, Rojo and Lindelöf you had 3 out of 4 defenders you’d like to be playing against most games if you wanted to stand a chance against United. But instead, our ineptitude in keeping the ball and even doing something with it, perhaps out of an inferiority complex, but more likely out of sheer incompetence (otherwise how would you explain the same malaise for most of this season?) shone through, and bar about 15-20 minutes between their goals, we rarely looked like scoring, even if both Niasse and later (when it mattered not one jot) Keane all should have done better.
The fact that I gave up my ST due to family commitments was perhaps a blessing; a pub in Northumberland, was arguably better than my usual round trip from Nottingham. It’s all very well pinning our hopes on getting a striker, but even if we get one that improves our stock beyond a willing but limited Niasse, or a willing but knackered Calvert-Lewin, we are bereft of the creativity needed to get them the ball in dangerous positions. I find myself thinking it’s as much a genuine creative midfielder we need just as much as a striker, but who’d come? Or more appropriately, who’d be sold? We may just have to look to our own, and hope Barkley gets fit and can muster a semblance of creativity, but let’s not forget that’s the same player frequently barracked for choosing the wrong option in the final third; or we expect Klaassen to step up, but he’s not even been near the match day squad, let alone the team or the bench, so he’s not the answer; Sandro – nope, not yet, and he’s more an up top kinda guy than a midfield creative; Rooney – yup, best we’ve got; Gylfi – yup, second best, but take both Rooney and Sigurdsson and they’ve both had periods of underperformance this season. I’m at a loss.
It look increasingly likely that we’re going to face another 16 League Games this season scrabbling around for points, hoping we can beat the likes of Bournemouth (we couldn’t) or West Brom (ditto) to get us to survive another year, at a time when ‘SURVIVAL’ should not have been in our consciousness given what we spent last summer.
Maybe it’ll change, but I’m not wildly optimistic. I’m certainly optimistic enough to renew my ST at some point this year, but if I have to watch turgid repeats of the last couple of weeks for the rest of this season, and the start of next, I’d seriously question the sense in a 210 mile round trip every home game. I’ll do it, you know I will, we all (*most) will, but at the moment it requires me to dredge up sufficient strength from somewhere in my body, plus renewed hope that I’m going to see Bolassie and Lennon/Vlasic tearing up oppo full backs and crossing for a willing but capable forward or two in the middle. Something has gone horribly wrong since August, and maybe before, and once again Everton demonstrate a rare ability in raising and then dashing your hopes.
And now what we face is a derby in the 3rd round as we seek a trophy. Yeh, that……
Ross Morose Crombie
PS Happy New Year. Ho ho bloody ho.