PAMPAS BULL IN A CITY CHINA SHOP
Mickey Blue Eyes
So the January "transfer window" is closed and locked, though this time hysteria was slightly less evident among morons and flakes. Perhaps economic reality is beginning to dawn even on the most Klutzed of Gunsels, but don't make book on it - some of them couldn't exist without extruding a self-pitying whine every few minutes.
The sum total for us was Bily and Louis out and Nikicar Jelavic, Darron Gibson, Steven Pienaar and Landon Donovan in. Bily's departure to Spartak Moscow was inevitable given his inability to settle in the English game......few doubted his natural talent, a pity it didn't work out......what might have been? Louis to Spurs surprised me. But in both cases they leave with the best wishes of all sane Evertonians.
Elsewhere, the usual yawn-inducing, last-minute financial juggling and swapping that marks the twice a year pantomime, though I doubt there were any yawns amongst those who had to do the deals and fill in the forms and faxes before midnight. All round it was first class business by everyone at the club at the very moment it was needed, and one right in the eye for perennial misery arses.
Meanwhile, the small matter of a match against Manchester City. Whenever we play them I am reminded of the pub birdbrain who three years ago forecast the Mancs would sink without trace because, "They're just buying up players without any thought." Since then they've won the FA Cup and now top the league playing first class footy. This means you really can't engage said birdbrains sensibly because, never satisfied, incapable of joy, anal-retentive, they excrete more of the same on another subject; whether they are desirable or not is immaterial: they are a sad fact of life, like dog poo.
I didn't look forward to the clash with City because no footy fan I know relishes a possible pasting of his beloved team. Fulham at home is one thing, league leaders quite another. Furthermore, expensive rampant City versus our punchless injury-hit lot seemed a no-brainer, a minimum three goal salami-slicing. Last season's double victory over them seemed as distant as the Boer War. You felt the temperature might fall even lower after a sound rogering administered by Silva and co., Seasonal Affected Disorder indeed. In the pre-match pub most of us would have snatched your hand off for a draw. Nevertheless, you clenched your teeth - if not your buttocks - took your seat, and hoped Our Boys would chase everything and make up in effort our hitherto lack of effective teamwork. Maybe Moyesy's putative rebuild would take off. Maybe Our Boys would be so professionally irritated it would be enough to carry the night. Maybe City would have an aberrant moment. Of course these were thin hopes, but hey...nil desperandum. If you can't stand the cold stay out of the refrigerator. And jaysus it was freezing again.
Teams: us - Hibbo in for Shane Duffy at centre back, Royston in for Magaye wide left mid, everyone else as you were; them - loadsamoney everywhere, dismaying if you allowed it to get to you.
City brought a sizeable contingent with them. But am I the only one who thinks they now sound slightly apologetic or still disbelieving about their incoming dosh? Nevertheless, you'd have to be an utter churl to begrudge them it after their yoyo experience of the last twenty years. In that sense they have earned their money jinn, and the little genius David Silva.
Anyway, my own biased low expectations quickly went up in smoke as the match went off like a firecracker from the start. So did Denis; when he was substituted with a minute left he got the kind of standing applause I haven't heard for a decade. Evertonians, yearning for a hero, loved every second of his chasing and harrying. He certainly completely unnerved the enemy central defence to the point where they looked ready to unravel like an old jumper. They never did, but it was a close run thing and enough for Royal Blues to be on the edge of their seats yelling, "Guwon Denis, lad, fuckn give it to them!" Louis he wasn't, no one touch flick-shit for him. I want to believe he can keep it up, though I doubt human flesh and blood is capable.
In truth it was an odd sort of game that could have gone any which way. Felli missed narrowly after Bainsey and Denis set him up and Tim Howard had to spread himself well for two excellent close-in saves. In fact City looked capable of scoring every time they came forward. Early on, the Firecracker had a header kicked off the line. Later, the enemy hit the underside of the bar with a tremendous shot from twenty metres. Apart from that the weird thing was the 'keepers didn't have much to do all through except catch crosses. Really, it was a match of entertaining attrition.
Fortunately we got the only goal, but it could easily have gone to City had they figured out how to play a final ball through our defence. Their approach play was as classy as you would expect, though their midfield was more than matched by ours, Felli once again dominant, Landon still excellent, Darron Gibson solid for most of the time, Tim still battling away - just, and Royston as unpredictable as ever. The only annoying feature was the number of times the ball was given away without any pressure. Still, David Silva was mostly snuffed and that was no small achievement.
Our defence was simply magnificent all night. They were under constant pressure as you would expect, but never stopped closing the enemy down and blocking shots and crosses before they could develop into real danger. We were most vulnerable on our left where Royston, as eager as a maddened Doberman in season, hasn't learned when to back up Bainsey and when to release the ball instead of barging into the enemy and falling over or getting kicked. So we were a bit lopsided, though not by much.
The goal came after an hour and was a first class piece of opportunism originating on the half way line, centre left mid, after Felli won a tackle and the ball went loose to Royston, who went past a mid as though he wasn't there, took it on five metres, and spread it wide left to Bainsey. We've come to expect his brilliant crosses as routine now and this one was no exception. It zoomed into the near post where the Firecracker got to it first and back headed it across goal to the far side of the penalty area. Landon killed it to feet cool as you like and laid it back to Gibson incoming right of the D and he buried it right-footed first time off a defender. The last half hour of tension almost burned a hole through your intestines as we also survived a couple of penalty appeals. Then again, the Firecracker smashed - it's the only word - through their right side defence and laid on a left-footed volleyed chance for Gibson that whistled past the post.
So once again Moyesy outsmarted Mancini and his scarf. Nice. And once again the transfer doom merchants have been choked. You would think all of them would have learned their lessons by now, but they never ever do. And it was good to see the Old Lady bouncing again. We've been too long without it. Well done to everybody responsible. Meanwhile, the misery arses can eat their livers out......