LIKE IT, LIKE
Mickey Blue Eyes
Alas, I have attended only one match this season, the opener V Manchester United. This makes for secular purgatory, which also means footy absence does indeed make the footy heart grow fonder. I even miss pre- and post-match coarse conviviality, Plewsy's "jokes," Alan's running commentaries, Dan's wild fanaticism and John's eternal puzzlement at the offside law. And as ill-luck would have it my current few days at home fall during a scheduled break from domestic football. This is wildly irritating but unavoidable. I hope for better luck in a November visit.
Providence has twisted the knife during my absence because we are apparently sporting our best footy for an age. Ever mindful of pa's pastimes and well-being, my girls have provided whole-match recordings when I am home from hot climes where the air colour is dusty beige and the week begins on Saturday. Being old fashioned, I have proper zero-toleration for TV/computer/internet-only geek "supporters," which means my only other footy contact - not even radio commentaries - has been score-by-text; bad enough, but just sufficient to help avoid the worst withdrawal symptoms. Meanwhile, I will be back on an airplane before our next fixture sounds its haunting mating call. Even if I had been able to attend some games the usual suspect peons have urged me to stay away because, "You might be a fuckn Jonah, knob head." Imagine my inner conflict.
At the time of writing we have played seven league games, won four, drawn two and lost one, fourteen goals for, eight goals against, goals difference plus six, points fourteen, and stand fourth in the league table. No exaggeration, at least four goals against were avoidable. It is very different from the feeling we suffered last season as we slunk away from Wembley after a semi-final second-half display you would not have wished on fat numbskull Lahndan tory Bullingdon Boy Boris Johnson. (Well, alright...Yes, you would. In spades.) The season thus far is joyous, quite unexpected, and vaguely amazing. Cheerful Evertonians these days wear the stunned expression of a duck hit on the head with a short plank.
Video recordings show us playing the ball around in a classy fashion not seen for decades, a long overdue reward for everyone connected with the club and its relative stability in a hysterical, bankrupt era. The only exception seems to have been a horror show at Leeds in the League Cup, or whatever it is called these days. We seem destined never to win the damn thing anyway, so who gives a dump? Of course I have just made a pathetic excuse; that has been our lot for so long it is now almost part of our evolving DNA. Almost. Fortunately, Evertonians, bless them, are far too anarchistic to accept the dictates of chance, even when the dice are loaded against them.
Still, many I know, and you cannot blame them, feel we are being lifted up only to fall heavily at some point. As an eternal optimist it is not a feeling I share, but I completely understand it though I have no time for Homo neanderthalensis and his doomed melancholia; by and large we would dearly love to square history, get fate in a corner and thrash her - yes, I know...sexist, misogynist - with a rolled up, wet unsold Echo. It is hard to maintain a dignified philosophy when at a regular tempo you are kicked in your nether footy regions. My attitude is this cannot go on forever, it only feels like it. Either that or you take up day-time Hamster-watching or ludo. We all feel moved to justify existence even when we agree with inimitable Richard Dawkins. (Okay, Dicky, if the universe is dispassionate how come Homo sapiens is full of "passion"?).
I base the following football opinions on a review of match recordings. They should be treated accordingly, for, as all real fans know, nothing matches spontaneous feel of the real thing.
Manchester United, Aston Villa, Swansea and Southampton were all outplayed by exquisite passing football, though the middle two teams were down to ten men for long periods. We drew with Newcastle because our centre backs dozed off after we had rogered the Skunks in the first half, and we lost at West Bromwich because Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini were picked out for "special" treatment. The latter aspect also applied to a draw at Wigan. Nutshell-wise, that is it. But enjoyable little devils are in the details, not in tabloidesque or textspeak or Twitter or Facebook. (All of which constitute the meagre vocabulary of Neanderthal Generation Y: three-quarter-kecks-Generation X is now middle aged, quite unspeakable, tubby, resentful and ugly. Gawd knows what Generation Z will be like. After that the genetic dice will have to roll again. Our species is almost out of regressive mutant options.)
At team level the alchemy is almost everything we could wish for. I hope it has reasonable longevity. The only real weakness appears to be our equivalent of the San Andreas Fault at centre back, where the inexplicable form of John Heitinga and Sylvain Distin has sundered our central defence. Jags therefore finds himself too often in desperate situations: we leak needless goals, for which Tim Howard should also have a word in his mirror. Seamus Coleman has given it a reasonable go at right back but seems to lose concentration, occasionally at crucial moments, but nevertheless has the makings of a sound partnership with new boy Kevin Mirallas, who also looks alive with promise. Obviously they cannot compare with the wonderful combination of Baines and Pienaar on the other wing...but who can in world football? Felli has been, well, sorry about this, imperious at sort of centre mid-slightly forward, or whatever name it is given by footy's New Jargon Technocrats since "In the hole" was stolen by golf and fox-hunting. Phil Neville has filled in gallantly for injured Darron Gibson despite achingly slow legs that come to all mortals. Leon, as usual, has been good when we play well, but transparent when things turn difficult.....Up front, Nik Jelavić has been quicksilver brilliant and irreplaceable, while Vic Anichebe looks like he is finally rid of his Why Me attitude. All in all, hugely promising.
David Moyes seems as pleasantly baffled and refreshed as everybody else despite the ominous award of Manager of the Month for September; actually, as most Royal Blues know, he is Manager of the Decade. Thus his sensible "Judge us after ten games." This is pertinent advice given our skinny resources and previous erratic form; it is also useful illustration of the rôle of entropy. But surely it is what he planned without expecting it to come off so quickly, if at all. Small wonder he sounds as guarded as we fans. Likely a bad run of injuries would probably do for our hopes, which is why the damage done to Marouane Fellaini has sent menacing ripples to Evertonian shores. But let us deal with misfortune if and when it happens. Enjoy the good times while we can and hope we keep all our players in January. Morosity requires no talent, only a self immolation impulse..
In closing, for no reason except temporary boredom, a trio of cathartic observations. The first is a half-question apropos football: what have the good people of beautiful Northern Ireland done to "deserve" a pair of know-nothing BBC morons like Alan "Stupid" Green and Colin "Walk Me Through This Lawro" Murray? Perhaps Ulster suffers from the same curse that inflicted our beloved city with appalling Jimmy Tarbuck and London with Kelvin Mackenzie. The other two tirades are apropos perfectly justified social prejudices, one of which is to wonder why Brit Generation Y mutilates its sentences at ten second intervals with the word "like"; a local variant of this is North Liverpool's thick-headed "suhin," which for the uninitiated is a diminutive of "something." And, finally, the other is that ineffable Jock melt Andrew Marr, his 1935 teeth and mouth, his peculiar acquired 1937 Windsor vowels, and his Cbeebies History of the World; Kenneth Clark (no, not the fat tory, the Civilisation one) must be rolling in his grave, bad molars or not. I confess I cannot erase any of these problems without the use of an illegal flame thrower or a .45 Magnum loaded with hollow point ammunition......There. I feel much better.
However, I can assure you, for all our present difficulties it sure beats facing an angry, wet-eyed Arab adolescent in combat fatigues waving a loaded Kalashnikov with the safety catch off. Mind you, the latter does perform wonders for your bowel movements, though it plays havoc with your Calvin Kleins: Newton's Second Law of Motion.
Right. I have an airplane to catch and maybe a match to see when I get back, Insha'Allah.
Come on You Blues. More please. Save some for me in November.