Obstructed View – Reflections on the Leicester (H) Game

From the sun-drenched warmth of the Upper Gwladys, gazing down on poor old @terry_smith and friends in the Paddock, temporarily being doused with a passing shower, I suddenly noticed something.

He’s got a ‘bob’.

I’m referring to Tom, not Terry (chances eh Terry?).

My Dad, despite being a Blackburn fan for all his life, and the fact that we cremated him and scattered his ashes in Suffolk, would be spinning in his grave. A team, supported by his beloved son, has a player with a bob. What’s the world coming to, says this crusty ancient author. Never mind, he’ll play like a demon and justify it. Weeeelllll…..not so much, but more of that later.

Seamus is back

This bloke.

Who didn’t raise an eyebrow when the team sheet came in, and after 10 months out with a double leg break, and barely an hour of U23 football, Seamus was back in the starting XI. A gamble? Certainly. Richly rewarded? You bet. We’ve all grown to love the Irish Marauder, his high pitched squeal for a pass echoing around the stands, and in Theo Walcott he may just have found a right-sided partner that will flourish this season and hopefully many more. It wasn’t just his trade mark charges up the flank (not a euphemism), it was the cuts inside, the trickery, and, thankfully given that’s what he’s mainly there to do, it was his defending too. That’s the tangible. What about the effect on his teammates? One can only guess, but if you see a bloke on two legs, one of which was in plaster for 4 months or so, and one of which was unable to manage a jog 3 months ago, tearing past his opposite number to set up an attack, and then hurtling back to defend as well, then that might give some of our ‘less energetic’ players a mental kick up the ar*e, not wishing to mention Schneiderlin by name…..oops. I was delighted to be proven wrong, and hats off to management for putting him on the park, and for, presumably, not telling Coleman to “take it steady lad”.

Putting the effort in was a feature of last night. Leicester, stripped of their best player after City were sniffing around, prepared to throw £60m at a player to replace one that is out of action for 6 weeks (football has really gone mad now, it’s official), were initially more composed than us, and could easily have taken an early need as an inventive corner was nearly our undoing at the back stick, not for the first time in recent living memory. But after that, I thought the Everton endeavour was heartwarming on an unpleasant night in the Old Lady (that doesn’t sound right does it?), with Idrissa Gana Gueye doing his usual stuff breaking up countless forward moves by Leicester, Keane and Jagielka largely solid at the back (it shows that Jags can still play, but maybe every 10 days not every week – don’t expect him in the line up at the Emirates), and Rooney and ‘Bob’ Davies industrious, if not able to play defence splitting passes, unless it was our own.

The epitome of hard-working was of course Oumar. Oh how we love him. Oh how we would love him even more if he was actually any good. You won’t find many with a better attitude than Niasse and Coleman, not just on the night either, and in the case of Niasse, he has the habit of being in the right place at the right time, so a striker’s instinct, but not necessarily a striker’s ability. Sure, he’s scored a few for us this season, cocking a snook at Koeman in the process, but his woeful drag wide from in front of goal, and his heavy second touch after doing all the right things to get himself one on one with Schmeichel, show us that a striker to back up DCL and Tosun is still going to be a necessity in the summer. But, like Coleman, his energy and attitude are an object lesson for the arguably more gifted glitterati around him. He is a model professional, shunned and frozen out to an embarrassing degree by Ronald McShoe Face, stuck out some time in the U23s and has taken his chance. Please take note Davy Klaassen: get in front of Allardyce today, and demand to be in Unsy’s squad for the next few games. Learn what it’s about in English football, play alongside young players that can learn form you, and learn what is needed at Everton Football Club. In short, play football, earn your wages.

763 words so far, and I’ve mentioned a Bun, an Irishman, a limited-gifted-hard-working-striker, and an out of touch (with reality) Dutchman. Anyone else to talk about?

Theo's 2nd

Oh yes, Theo Walcott. A passing reference to his tie up with Coleman doesn’t quite do his contribution justice does it? He was superb last night. Those around him worked out where they needed to be, so got closer to him after the long distance relationship they tried against West Brom, and he sparkled. Yes a goal, even two, but his industry, movement and skills were just what we needed and lifted the whole team and those watching him, except perhaps those in the Away end. We can all worry about whether Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan will open their account for Arsenal, and whether Ozil is going to justify his £350k a week new contract (see earlier, yes, football is bonkers), but every Arsenal fan in the land will be worrying about whether Walcott is going to repay Wenger’s reluctance to play him with a fine performance and a winning goal or several. That would make a change. We don’t get a lot at Arsenal, never have, who can forget the embarrassing 7-0 thrashing there after we’d secured Champion’s League football in 2005, so to be honest I’m expecting bugger all this time as well, but as we know, hope springs eternal, so of course I’ll be watching…..just in case.

Final word has to go to Tom Davies. I won’t mention the bob again this season (probably) if he starts to perform back to where we know he is capable. His energy was superb, but too many misplaced passes, and too many balls bounce off him. We have to remind ourselves (take note some around me in the UG) that this lad is 19; he was thrust into the first team ahead of schedule, his manager having often said he wasn’t ready, and many media ‘experts’ agreeing; but he is still a work in progress. If you think you’re doing the right thing by moaning and slagging him off when it’s not working out, think again. Think what he brings to the team, his energy, his work-rate, his eye for a pass even if not always completed, his attitude (not alone, with his Yob Mates DCL and Jonjoe not dissimilar) and his connection with the fans. And yes, his hair……

Good result yesterday, breathe a little easier, not job done yet, but a platform on which hopefully we can now build after a few weeks of abject misery. Oh, and welcome Mangala. Just do the defending lad, none of the playing from the back malarkey….!

Anyone else notice how we now seem to have a glut of Central Defenders……but still no Left Back? Someone might have mentioned it.

Actually, another final word. What was it with the substitutions? Waited too long, and then took off both Rooney and Sigurdsson at the same time – what? Bizarre. There was something about Allardyce’s body language last night that suggests to me he’s not a happy bunny. Luke warm reaction at the end of the game, his rugged face etched in apparent annoyance at everything and everyone around him. And it can’t just be about Lookman telling him where to stick it. Cheer up Sam, there’s job to do still.

Ross Crombie

PS as ever, with a midweek fixture, thanks to the Highways Agency for shutting the M6 South and the A50. Nobs. Or is it Knobs?

 

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