Mickey Blue Eyes...
Everton V West Bromwich Albion
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Mickey Blue Eyes
Roberto In The Technical Area
Roberto In The Technical Area
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Mickey Blue Eyes


If I were seeking a neocon journalist job in Corruption City, Mistake-on-Thames, Saturday's fixture against West Bromwich Albion would be headlined as a managerial battle of Tempestuous Brilliant Latino V Dour Taciturn Jock. But since I would rather bare my behind to the sun in the Rub' al Khali in July......I won't. Quite rightly we treat such Lahndan alien neocon spivs as the innermost scrapings of a Sumo wrestler's jock strap. Or, worst of all, an employee of the Daily Mail or Rupert Murdoch.


In fact the game was potentially a nicely balanced contest between two very good sides. A game of football, that's all.


Meanwhile, doubtless ale houses and message forums have been aquiver with he-said-she-said tittle tattle of the transfer cattle market. Every ale house has its shaved-head, end-of-the-bar, hate-filled, tattooed know-it-all who actually knows nothing and has a big mouth and an empty head to prove it. Why anybody bothers with any of their tedious claptrap is beyond me. Like most people, all I want to do is watch a good footy match and leave the shaved heads to disappear up their own sphincter. We can do without them, though of course they have always been there and always will be. (You doubt it? See this fifty-four years old BBC TV comedy broadcast


This time round I was lucky enough to be invited again to Dixie Dean Suite corporate, courtesy of Chris, the lovely Michelle and son Matthew. What could be better or more civilised? The verbals get lively too. Chris is right wing Gestapo and considers me a danger to what's left of the Empire: presumably elderly tories are quaking in their sheepskin lined boots in Anglesey and the tea rooms of Hoylake. All in all, a promising afternoon lay ahead.  It got even better when a quietly composed Roberto Martinez appeared, said some carefully chosen words, and was followed by Kevin Campbell, who came around the tables and gave me an opportunity I have always wanted, to say thanks for all those goals that saved us from relegation and possibly a generation in the lower divisions. The man radiates warm enthusiasm for life, still apparently fit as a fiddle.


The first home match of the season always has a sense of occasion. The start of the Roberto Martinez era added to it, optimism everywhere, weather perfect, Goodison and its new pitch looking gorgeous. Preliminaries out on the pitch included a good tribute to Dave Hickson and an impeccable minute's applause. As the crowd roared up all around you, you could only feel sorry for those who opted for the bloodless sterility of a VDU or TV or their own version of cynicism. Times have changed muchly since the teams would come out, have a ten minute casual kick around and then play a footy match.


Still, none of us really knew what to expect. Albion had a good start to a reasonable season last time out, beat us in fact, and might prove hard work in the initial weeks of a new season. They would be no pushovers despite losing their opening match to a last minute penalty. There was bound to be a measure of uncertainty in our play as the team adjusts to whatever system it is Roberto wants them to play. Don't ask me, I can't be arsed with statistics and diagrams and pseudo-technical jargon that too often passes for footy chat these days. The game is a simple one in its basics: Run. Kick ball. Pass. Score. As often as possible do it better than your opponent. Win, good. Lose, bad. Draw, grumble.


Actually, the game was similar to the previous draw V Norwich, this time without the goals. We had by far most possession and attempts on goal, played prettily, and Felli hit a post, but it was again strangely unconvincing. In fact Tim Howard had to make two superb saves to keep things equal during two breakaway attacks. Had we gone behind you had the feeling we would be unable this time to get an equaliser. Late substitutions made little difference. Due praise for Albion, though. They closed everything down and kept their shape, their centre defence and midfield in particular. Their breakaways might be sparse but every one of them looked dangerous as we pushed further up the pitch.


For us, the Felli experiment continues as he plays in his preferred deeper position. It's only two games but I am unconvinced by it despite his mister-everywhere activity. My biggest encouragement came from his obvious developing combination play with Ross Barkley, who yet again belied his young years with another maturing performance that occasionally verged on arrogant. If Felli stays, they could be potentially lethal together.


The tempo stepped up in the second half and we threatened a breakthrough that never came despite substitutions of Arouna Koné and Steven Naismith for Nik Jelavic and Kevin Mirallas for the final quarter of an hour. The Mirallas substitution had a quieting affect on the crowd because everybody expects him to do something new every time he gets the ball. Gone, there was a feeling only the sheer weight of attacks would breach the enemy. Alas.


So once again we felt as though it was two points dropped, even though, really, a draw was a fair result. We only had ourselves to blame. Plainly, we need the killer touch as much as ever. If it could match approach play we would win every game by six goals. But it doesn't, and frankly I can't see it happening at the moment. Fingers crossed I am wrong and the new system delivers in due course.


Suitably chastened, post-match, post-farewell toasts to Chris, Michelle and Matthew, I walked to the pub to meet Plewsy and co. Venue wise, it was chalk and cheese, from the sublime to the ridiculous, from civilisation to a wall of simian gabble, where bar-flies sweated freely and were undebauched by the refinements of toilet. I fled to a corner with Plewsy, where we were pursued by his self-proclaimed best looking brother, Ian. Soon I was as bad as everyone else. Football does that to you, as if we didn't know.


Roll on the season and that first win.




Comments about Everton V West Bromwich Albion
Doug, does Colomendy count?
Stu, Sunny Rill, 1:42 PM 31/08/2013
Doug, Liverpool, 12:02 PM 31/08/2013
Anyone ever been abroad in a hot climate for so long that when you come home (even in the summer) the climate hits you like a wonky aircon in a hotel that doesn't know how to turn off? I think Everton squad are going through similar changes in their style of play. Our squad at the moment is still very much a huckkk spit..DM squad. Everyone of our players have had to endure our previous manager's methodically cack tactics of bashing different shaped blocks into their wrong positions to such an extent that when you go to put them back in their correct position, their edges have worn away some what to slot in perfectly to their most natural habitat. I think it's going to take a couple of months for Roberto to nurture those sharp edges back in to their rightful positions. But as much as I'm a firm believer that we should look to innovation rather than renovation, El Bob will need more than the rumoured £20m for Monsieur Screech to maintain our last table finish.
Doug, Liverpool, 1:03 PM 27/08/2013
I don't see that much difference from last season apart from Fellaini dropping back. We still can't take advantage of all the possession we have. I was never that impressed by Kone and even less with him after seeing him in action for us, so I don't think he's the answer. It's early doors but if the season goes on this way we'll be lucky to finish in the top half, but let's hope it doesn't come to thet.
Macca, Huyton, 12:46 PM 27/08/2013
I thought the Baggies did another job on us. Like they usually do. Steve Clark is a decent manager and or dour taciturn jock. Its hard to get the ball in behind two banks of 4 in their half you need really good players, thought and movement to unlock it. Over to the custodians of our great club to spend some of that TV money that everyone else seems to have access to.
Az, Wavo, 2:13 PM 26/08/2013
We do need patience, but we've needed that since our last trophy in 1995! You can't blame them if some people get a bit irritated.
Spectator, Crosby, 12:56 PM 26/08/2013
Hold your nerve Bluenoses. Roberto says he's happy with the way the team's playing . We knew it was not gonna be a walk in the park with the new system. Stick behind the lads and the results will come. Would we want to go back to the previous regime with the recent goings on anyway?
Mark , North Wales, 11:53 AM 26/08/2013
New manager calls for new MOT, which means if certain parts aren't up to the task then they need replacing. If not, they usually end up becoming loose and falling off anyway halfway through the bumpy ride! Our wings and defence perform better than most teams but all that is wasted resources if we haven't got a solid midfield and forwards to close the deal. Would it not be prudent to address this problem before window end or are we to waste the best years of our best players by painting over the cracks?
Phil, Liverpool, 11:35 PM 25/08/2013
Patience. We will have to take a few steps back before we go forward.
Bitter, Liverpool, 9:06 PM 25/08/2013
Blimey - someone talking sense - I thought we were spot on - exciting to watch and ............everything but we have no bugger like the last 5 seasons that can put the ball in the goal. AGAIN. OK one more thing - that Ben Foster especially and our Tim stopped numerous chances that could have changed the game. Let's see how it goes in the next few matches - the style is more like what we want, BUT - we also need results. For me - off the subject of the post - sell Fellani and get a decent striker.
Steve, NL, 9:05 PM 25/08/2013
It's no use hoofing long balls up to Jelavic for him to chase and fight for. He does it, but that's not the strength of his game, and we've got nobody who does play that way anyway. I hope we do better with the passing game in the penatly area because that's the way Nick Jelavic is most effective.
Tony, Stoneycroft, 8:26 PM 25/08/2013
I think we have to look at the bigger picture. It is a strange situation to be in this season because if Moyes had still been here then I would have been cursing two frustrating draws with Norwich and a very average West Brom team but I am willing to be patient with Martinez, he is a likeable character who lets be honest has a very hard job to do much more with what is a relatively limited squad and no real finances to add and expand on the small bits of quality we do have. Yesterday was frustrating because it was almost a carbon copy of last season, a glaring inability to break a stubborn opponent down and a lack of clinical edge which should surely become a major worry if it continues for much longer. So far in 2013 we have had five 0-0 draws, plus a 1-0 defeat at SUnderland in April where we looked so poor and lacking in guile and energy in front of goal, add to that a 3-0 defeat in the FA Cup to Wigan and a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford. We have looked like a team that is going to struggle in front of goal for while to me and I really do hope that we dont persist with just keeping Jelavic up front alone as yet again this is a carbon copy of last season, it doesnt work, how long do we give Jelavic? I personally think we need a bolder approach again, I would start with both Jelly and Kone, a two pronged attack to become more dangerous in front of goal. We dont look like ever really making things happen when the oposition sit deep, Mirallas needs to become more consistent, Osman needs benching when Gibson, IF Gibson is fit and Fellaini needs to know where he is at. I am not convinced that signing McCarthy will really improve our attack, could be spending alot of money on a player who does nothing that Barkley cant do..We need patience but we need to quckly establish who we are keeping, who we are signing if they go and how to play our more influential players in more advanced positions and with more support around the box.
Jimmy, Merseyside, 8:12 PM 25/08/2013
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