If only there were a memorable phrase, perhaps in a continental European language, even in French, that sums up having seen it all before.
It wasn’t, at last, that seen-it-all-before subservient Everton turning up with an inferiority complex the size of the queues to get on the trams back in to Manchester city centre after the game, even if the result on the face of it would suggest a certain back-foot performance. A comfortable 2-0 lead was only pegged back by a penalty, but after that only fleeting opportunities to snatch what would probably have been an ill-deserved draw based on what game had unfolded beforehand. But we played better than we have at OT for many a year, that one exception in 2013 excluded.
It wasn’t that saw-that-coming hat trick from a former striker that had been mocked for his current form by Evertonians obviously too young to know what happens when you do that. We’ve seen what happened when Rooney was booed on his returns to Goodison whilst in Red; plays out of his skin, and usually scores. But Lukaku didn’t even get on until the last half hour, and was pants, thankfully.
But it was a feeling of seen-that-already-this-season as we left a fabled Sky 6 home ground having created enough chances to have scored a few from open play, only to have fluffed our lines just when it really mattered to be word perfect. For Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Arsenal, read Bernard against Manure; and add to that a header straight at the ‘keeper when unchallenged by Gylfi, a Seamus hoof over the bar when what we needed was a Swansea, or a Walcott drive at the ‘keeper when a square ball was all that was required. The positive is that we are creating chances that we’ve hardly had a track record of so doing in recent seasons, but of course you have to convert these chances, and more composure on the ball, and perhaps less selfishness, would be the answer. But then you know what happens, we try to walk the ball in to the net. And then that doesn’t work – “just effing hit it [Jelavic]” springs to mind. But as the saying goes, you have to be in it to win it, and thankfully we were definitely in it.
However, apart from our own mistakes, the biggest mistake, and one we’ve seen all too often before, was the refereeing of Jon Moss. Good grief. If ever there were a walking (NB not running) example of the need for VAR, there it is embodied in the burgeoning frame of the man from Sunderland. He’s 48 for heaven’s sake, and if he is anything like I was at his age, my speed had slowed somewhat, my eyesight was definitely on the blink, and my refusal to acknowledge my advancing years made me all the more determined to make a decision, often too quickly without fully thinking it through, and maybe got more wrong than I would have done 10 years earlier. He’s not alone amongst the PL refs. Too many are ageing used-to-bes and I have much more time for the younger brigade like Oliver and, and, and…..actually, that’s it. I won’t, despite the previous words in this para, turn this in to a rant at referees, but I have to say that the standard is at an all time low, and it’s somewhat baffling that there’s a technology out there that can help, and for some reason, it’s not being used. I’d happily get back in my car 10 minutes later if I’d watched a game where all the major decisions had been made correctly; it’s been used for a World Cup FFS, so why not the Premier League. The only consolation is that the Premier League will look again at the incident, and ensuring consistency and support for the Free Oumar Niasse Campaign, they’ll retrospectively ban Martial for the exaggerated dive and second movement after Gueye had fairly tackled him and won the ball……oh, hang on….. Seen that before too. Consistency my R’s.
Martial’s goal. “Oh no, not again” I shouted at the screen as he lined up his shot, but yes, it was again. It’s a peach of a goal, and I don’t buy any of that “it was a one off, and could as easily have hit the corner flag”; he’s a class act, and he’s done us like that before now, and no doubt will again unless we decide we’ll zonally mark the zone he likes to curl goals in from.
We’ve also seen Pickford save the odd penalty before. In all the attention given to Pogba’s “look at me” farce of a ‘run’-up, what’s missing is the commentary on an outstanding save from our boy, also from Sunderland, but actually capable unlike the ref. He’s turning in to a bit of a cult. Jordan I mean, not the other word that’s spelt similar, and that would be Moss again. You have to just wonder what Pickford is doing in terms of building a reputation amongst oppo strikers at the moment. They know they have to aim for the hardest spots for a goalkeeper to reach, which also happen to be the hardest for a striker to hit too, and not just for penalties: do you reckon Martial would have scored his one-on-one if he was up against almost any other ‘keeper in the Prem? There’s probably only de Gea at the moment (and possibly the bloke with too many letters and consonants at Chelsea) that has that same aura about him, that just makes opposition players think that little bit more rather than act on basic instinct, and that has to count in our favour.
He’s only played two games, but Andre Gomes eh?
Never mind the collective swooning, not seen in Blue since Ginola, but we have ourselves a player. OK, he’s not playing defence splitting Messi/Iniesta/TheOtherLittleBlokeAtBarca type passes just yet, but he’s further back for a start, and he’s proving the perfect link between defence and attack, always available, comfortable on the ball under pressure or when with plenty of time, a swerve of those hips here and there (for footballing advantage I should stress), and he’s moving us forward. The idiot on Twitter (doesn’t narrow it down much I admit) that said he’s just a swarthy Schneiderlin simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about – get in the bin. Andre, we love you, some for different reasons than others….
Not going to add to the debate about Walcott and Coleman who admittedly were poor; our ability as a fan base to turn on players not ripping it up 100% every week, or even every other week, is a bit alarming and we should stop it right now.
It’s just like déjà vu all over again…..