Obstructed View – Reflections on the Crystal Palace (H) Game

Are we all smiling again now? No? Still booing? Get a grip if you are.

Smilers

If there are two players out there with better smiles than these two, let me know please. Davies seems to spend his life laughing, smiling, ripping Snods (see Everton TV), being ripped (Chicken Lad), and trying like hard to be a top-rated Premier League footballer, like we know he will be, but like we also know he’s having a tough ‘second season’ where nearly everything he touches turns less to gold, and more to gifting away possession. OK, that’s harsh, and untrue, but sets me up for what I want to say.

Tom Davies is an exceptional footballer, you don’t play like he did last season without having immense talent. Maybe a little bit of this has gone to his head, because his passing and keeping possession has been a bit awry this term. But you can not doubt for one minute his energy, his desire to move forward, his willing running, his closing down, his niggling tackling, and energy and joie de vivre that he brings to the pitch, and which, I’m guessing, is hugely infectious and why the players love him so much, witness his mobbing when he took his goal (just a reminder, this was a midfielder in the box, to take advantage of the ping pong around him to score his first goal of the season). It wasn’t a barnstorming run and goal a la City last January, but it’s a goal, and that’s all that really matters at the end of the day. What bothers me is the increasing hum of mutters that greet his errors.

As I said a few weeks ago, he’s 19. He’s a teenager. Remember those days? No, me neither. But I do know, having recently had a couple of kids pass that stage, and a step kid now about the same age as Tom, that teenagers aren’t likely to be finely tuned automatons that perform every day of their lives (that always assumes they get out of bed). Rather than be understanding of that, and rather than focusing on what he’s brilliant at, and trying to help him develop to the next stage, there are some too quick to ‘mutter’, maybe even shout, that he’s not up to the job. If there was a Job Description of being a supporter of Everton, I’m pretty certain that it wouldn’t include: “you must be sure to point out player’s inadequacies vocally whilst at the game”. We all know that players have dips, some players even have dips that might be terminal, and we all know that we’ve talked in the pubs, clubs, and social media about the failings of one or two in this squad, me included. But at the game? Yeh, yeh, I get it, “I’ve spent my hard earned money to pay a ticket and I can say what I want”. Yes, you can. But if you’re a mutterer, or a shouter, or even a boo-er, just ask yourself, how does this help address the issue you’re muttering, shouting or booing about?

Did I mention booing? Anyone notice any booing on about 80 minutes? Was that directed at the mystifying decision not to give Tosun a run out at 3-0 up? Was it directed at Schneiderlin? Or both him and the Manager? Who knows. The only time I’ve ever boo-ed my own team was the Wigan FA Cup debacle at half time, and some might argue this was justified, and at least we didn’t lose the second half…..

I was embarrassed for Schneiderlin. I don’t want him in the team, I don’t much want Martina in it either, or Williams, so I’m not averse to calling players out, but done appropriately in my view. None of them read this drivel anyway, it’s only me (and even then only when I’m proof reading it) and you, dear reader.  I can’t help but think booing Schneiderlin is going to have exactly the opposite of the desired effect. He’s a player. He’s proved that. Is he on top form? Of course not, he’s been appalling. Part of that is confidence, or lack of, part of it is fear, part of it may well be the tactics he’s urged to employ. But we’re 3-0 up, the manager makes a poor substitution decision, the least we can do is give Morgan a polite round of applause and hope it helps. How does the booing help? Just helps him in a downward spiral.

“It’s letting him know he’s not playing well enough. Not putting the shift in.” Really? He doesn’t know that? He may have many qualities, and maybe some failings, but I doubt lack of self awareness is one of them. Much as it may hurt, much as Schneiderlin may be the focus of our irritation of another season in the garbage bin after raising hopes of a sunny day on the patio (I’ll work on that analogy…), it ain’t all down to him. Personally, I think it’s down to Walsh and Allardyce, and they clearly haven’t, as RK didn’t before, worked in tandem to get the best out of him, nor Sandro, Klaassen, Lookman and maybe one or two others in the squad. We’ve got some superb players, let’s try and make them even better, not boo them, mutter or shout at them.

What about Walcott though?

Theo2

The headlines may go to the scorers, with Sigurdsson’s goal just one of the excellent things he did yesterday, with Niasse’s seemingly misdirected but ultimately perfectly placed headers a justifiable reward for his workmate (again) and assist, and the aforementioned Tom Davies. But the real thorn in Palace’s side (apart from their astonishingly lengthy injury list) was Theo Walcott. There are a few players in recent times that have got me off my seat, Deulofeu – God help us – being one of them, but Walcott can be added to the list. His mazy runs (forward, I might add), his hold up play, his passing, his tracking back, his all round play yesterday was outstanding. Lucky for us that he was so under-used at Arsenal as he appears to be as fresh as a daisy, and twice as fragrant. This lad linked well once again with Coleman, and also with Kenny after Seamus’ untimely removal with injury, but also with Sigurdsson (have I mentioned he was excellent again yesterday?) and Rooney. That XI starting the game yesterday was probably the go-to starting XI for every game for me from now on. It’s got steel (particularly Gana Gueye, once again causing opponents to look over their shoulder even when getting on the team bus home), it’s got a bit of flair (Theo, Gylfi, sometimes Rooney, and the effervescent Coleman), it’s got a top ‘keeper. All it lacks is a defence.

Still, can’t have everything I suppose. I’d prefer Holgate and Keane together as, new purchases aside, this looks like the best longer term pairing at the Club, but clearly Mangala was brought in for a reason, and it wasn’t just to keep Tosun company on the bench, so Mason may have to wait until next season. But he’s still young, he’s still learning too.

That’s it, after a deeply miserable OV last week, you can’t blame me for being overly upbeat this time around. A comfortable win I guess, but let’s up the tempo from the start against Watford and then look forward to a few more wins as the season stumbles, in our case, to a messy post-binge close.

No more booing please.

Ross Crombie

2 thoughts on “Obstructed View – Reflections on the Crystal Palace (H) Game

  1. I have watched EFC every season for the past 57 years but this is the first time I have commented publicly on anything to do with the club. I did write to Philip Carter once urging him to keep hold of Howard Kendall, fortunately he did. Anyway yesterday I witnessed something that I did not ever imagine I would hear at Goodison, and pray I never hear again. This was ‘fans’ , many of them in my vicinity in the Main Stand, actually booing a player about to come on for an injured player and booing even louder when the unfortunate entered the field of play. In my mind this was sickening, yes the player in question has had a miserable time, basically since joining from Man Utd. His demeanour on the field would suggest a lack of effort indeed interest, but this is far from accurate. He is a defensive midfield player whose main job is to frustrate the attacking opposition, not charge around the pitch like a banshee. Regrettably he has been unable to perform anywhere near the standard expected, but, despite his poor form, he has nevertheless been continuously picked for the team by our current Manager. This is not the player’s fault, he cannot tell the current Manager that he doesn’t want to play, who would on his inflated salary? So the blame for playing him has to be levelled at the current Manager. However all the blame for the Booing yesterday lies with those ‘fans’, who ought to be ashamed of themselves. Normally I would travel home with a happy face after a good win, indeed any win these days, but my wife wondered why I arrived home looking miserable. I found it hard to tell her the reason. BTW great article Ross as usual.

    1. Great comments David. It’s almost a fatuous debate whether the boos were aimed at player or manager, more whether it should have happened at all.

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