Obstructed View – Reflections on the Brighton (H) Game

I hope I see Seamus Coleman’s Angry Man antics in many more games this season.

Sea

This image is just the welling up of the rage-release as he makes his way to the widest outpost of the Lower Gwladys (and actually in front of the Family Enclosure) to fully vent his spleen…..

Sea cocks

Now, let’s be honest, he knows (and has himself said) what we know (and far too many people said) that he had a stinker of a game against United, and that since he’s returned from one of the most shocking leg breaks anyone will ever witness on a football pitch, he’s not been at his marauding best. Some have questioned his defending skills in the past, before the injury, so they might say it’s not just about his post-injury form as it wasn’t that great before that. Well, I’d have to disagree with that, but today is not the time nor the place for such a debate. What no one would disagree with is the passion and commitment this man has for the Everton Blue. He’s not averse to over-the-top celebrations in the past (they’ve only just repaired the pitch side hoardings at Swansea for example), and when he openly admits to having read the criticism that he’s received of late, it’s hardly surprising that he wants to cock his ear to see if anyone is still having a go as he rifles one in from the edge of the box. Seamus Coleman is one man who I’d want, if you’ll forgive the unfortunate but timely metaphor, in my trench. The criticism is justified in that we as supporters have a right to express our views, other supporters have a right to have a different perspective, but what is wholly unjustified is the degree to which that criticism is levelled at a man who is in his 10th year with the Club, after a short hop across the Irish Sea for a transfer fee the size of which escapes me – perhaps we could find out and immortalise it in a chant?

Anyway, that’s that off my chest.

A win, in the end a comfortable one, and one from which we can still learn plenty. The reality is that the first half was patchy at best, some great moves (where did Keane get that through ball for Seamus from?) needing more end quality, or put it this way – more like the quality finish from Richarlison after Sigurdsson had fluffed his lines on a couple of chances. We looked good overall up to their goal, and frankly shocking after it, and so I was relieved the whistle went when it did. If Brighton had scored again, we’d have struggled. What worries me is that we don’t seem as robust as we need to be when in the face of adversity. We saw it at Arsenal after their two quick goals, and again last week at United, that after periods of dominance and squandered chances to lose the first and certainly second goals seem to kick the stuffing out of us, and certainly put us off our stride. When Brighton scored yesterday we had already scored one to lead, but after that we were tentative and nervy, and there for the taking if up against a better team that the grafters we faced yesterday.

Looking at the real positives yesterday, of which there were many, one has to be the peerless form of Michael Keane. Remember him? He’s the excellent Central Defender we bought from Burnley, you know, the one with 4 England caps. That’s the one. No, not the one that looked like (what we now know to be true) he was playing in boots too big for him. Keane was as superb yesterday as he was dreadful last season, and just shows what can happen when fully fit, and not playing alongside the hapless Ashley Williams every week. Keane dominated the nudgy-arm-wafty Glenn Murray in the air and on the ground, a task beyond many a defender before him, and then proceeded to show a range of passing not seen since Derek Mountfield. No, seriously, Keane’s passing was superb yesterday, forwards at every opportunity, including the threaded ball to Coleman mentioned earlier. That adds a whole lot to our game, as well as his (stick that in your ‘How I Get The Best Out Of Players’ chapter Samuel). It helps, obviously, to have a sturdy (sturdy???!!) sidekick in Kurt Zouma who has been equally impressive this season, and again yesterday, and whilst his passing is more out to Digne, his attack threat comes from advancing with ball at feet over the half way line and linking up play with Sigurdsson or Bernard. After all, Zouma advancing at pace must be a fearsome sight – I wouldn’t fancy tackling him that’s for sure!

What happens now will be interesting to see as Zouma gets an extra breather as he’s ineligible to play against Chelsea next week. I assume Keane and Mina will pair up for a bit on Tuesday to get used to each other in a game situation, but Chelsea will offer different threats to the Kenyans of Gor Mahia (who looked a tall outfit mooching in the Fan Zone yesterday). I can’t wait to see Mina as an attacking threat so that “Corner to Everton” means opposition fans are nervous as hell rather than as relaxed as if on the beach sipping a piña colada (other cocktails are available); but at the back, I must admit to being a wee bit nervous. OK, I’ve not seen him play, apart from a brief glimpse at the WC, but not sure how I feel about him having Hazard advancing at pace towards him. I doubt he’ll get past, not the first time, but it’s got red card written all over it, which at least means Zouma will resume his place in the team the following match. Mina looks all legs, and a bit like a giraffe – and that’s ok if you need to get things down from the highest branches, but not so good if you’ve got loads of rapid mice jiggling around your feet. Prove me wrong Yerry.

What I loved yesterday was the celebration for the third goal:

Boys

…all the ‘boys’ together showing obvious delight at the overpriced (reference: Paul Merson) Richarlison netting an absolute wonder goal. Over the top? Really? If Messi had scored that, people would be ecstatic and the hyperbole would run from L4 to the Camp Nou. OK, thanks for the pass Lewis Dunk, but the way he took it past Shane Duffy, formerly of this parish, was something I’ve never seen up close before, and then showed Bernard how to round a ‘keeper and then slot it in the net. Superb. One of the best individual goals I’ve seen at The Old Lady, and I’m very old, so that’s lots. At least.

The celebration was as much a demonstration of the love for Richarlison as it was revealing of the team spirit. Someone else has said it, but the best bit about the Summer Recruitment has been the kind of men Brands and Silva have brought in, as well as their footballing ability. I now want Barcelona to win EVERYTHING so they don’t want Gomes back; I want Chelsea to think Zouma won’t take them to the next level; and I want us to find more players that the Everton In The Community videos have shown – good players, good men, good Evertonians – arguably in that order, but certainly all three qualities.

I could go on: Idrissa Gueye with one of his best games in a Blue shirt (which is saying a lot); Digne continuing to impress on the left; Gomes the absolute heartbeat of the team (NB heartbeat, not heartthrob); and Lookman increasingly looking the part. A quick mention of Walcott – patience people, patience.

Right that’s me done – just off to check Coleman’s adrenaline levels.

Ross Crombie

4 thoughts on “Obstructed View – Reflections on the Brighton (H) Game

  1. Good report. Jost love Gomez, feel we really do need him. Class and style shows in measures. I believe against the top 4/6 we should have 3 centre backs as both full backs usually has 1 attacking/upfield and can leave us exposed whereas Keane, Mina and Zouma allows for this and still gives us their breakaways cover. We are so much improved this season looking back over last few. COYB

  2. Re: the character of the dog ings ‘someone else has said it’…. watch this space, or should I say check out my piece in WSAG, due out this week….Great minds and all that….

  3. Great read….

    It’s very rare for me to get to read something about Everton, where I live (India) most “fans” follow ManU / Chelsea / ManC / Whichever is the flavour of the month. So don’t get to see any insightful look into my team from people who are closer. I always look forward to your posts eagerly.

    And, I concur on the point made about Coleman. He had an off day the other game, but he seems to be a guy who is aware of his own shortcomings, and hence gets a little leeway from me in terms of tolerance. He is allowed to have a few “off-games” for the sheer loyalty and dedication he has shown. He has stuck by us in all ups-and-downs, so it’s upto us to be with him for his ups-and-downs as well.

    A question though: Is it possible to look at Coleman as a winger rather than a wing-back, like Bale maybe. I don’t know, I just want to check if people close enough to see him in action think it is doable or not.

    1. I’m not sure he’s got enough trickery to be an out and out winger. His pace has slowed a bit over the years as well. Neither of these points decry his ability as an attacking full back, but I think we have better wing options in the squad than Seamus. Thanks for your kind comments, and I’ll be back in India in early 2021, but not decided where yet – depends on the England Test Match schedule!

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