TO HULL AND BACK
Mickey Blue Eyes
The last thing we needed at home to Hull City on a cold December Wednesday night was a repeat of the awful Swansea game, or, worse, the debilitating Tottenham match. Those horrors would make anybody shudder......and not from winter cold. Then again, this season we swivel every whichways trying to follow our form. Put everything together and the wonder is we are not sobbing en masse on a giant couch in a Rodney Street consulting room; even veteran Evertonians who should know better mutter to themselves, dawn shaving foam everywhere except on the chin. Sigmund Freud would love it. Tennessee Williams could get a new play out of it, Roberto as Blanche DuBois. Eddy Braben could write another script for Eric and Ernie, Roberto on the staircase as Shirley Bassey with a large boot on one foot. Crazy, the lot of us. No wonder.
In the grotesque deluded world of fans chauvinism, Everton branch, this game was paladin V goblin, even though the clubs were separated by a mere six points and seven places in the Premier League table. In fact if we (11th) lost we would sink nearer to a possible relegation dog fight; if Hull (18th) lost they would further embed in the bottom three to add to their renaming woes. A draw would mean yet more unwanted confirmation of current mediocrity of both. At the pre-match rate we could already forget the top four, then eight points distant but with this game in hand. Clearly an important contest not to be taken lightly. Nobody had the faintest idea which Everton would turn up.
As it transpired, it wasn't as bad as the Swansea match.
It was worse.
In fact it was worse than that plus the worst of the Tottenham game. It was a pitiful, unprofessional performance in which we once again failed to hold on to a lead: it ended 1-1. Our two best players were Muhamed Bešić and Kevin Mirallas who, for whatever reason, were both substituted, which sort of summed up the night. Flashes of individual brilliance apart - and they were in short supply anyway - our game was littered with an all too familiar negativity of sideways and backward metronomics, misplaced passes, lack of determination and creativity and hapless defending. For long periods of the second half we were once again second best. Once again midfield was a shapeless, clueless morass. Once the substitutions were made there looked only one winner, and it wasn't us. Suspicion dawns Roberto's tactics have been rumbled, nullified, countered, and even become a liability. They may work in European competition, but in England?
A few more league displays like this and we will be well and truly back to the bad old days and up to our necks in a relegation battle. Nor is it easy to see how matters will come right even when injuries clear, if ever. Sadly for us, all our veteran players have "lost it" all at the same time, but even that fails to explain why the triumvirate of Tim Howard-Phil Jagielka-Sylvain Distin has suddenly become churned mulch, odd game excepted (like Wolfsburg). However, it would help if defenders and midfielders alike would recognise the advantages of passing forward instead of across or back. No wonder poor old Romelu Lukaku is beginning to look like a lonely orphan up front. At the final whistle there were boos. I didn't join in, but I know how they felt. Like them, all I can do is hope this is just an unlucky bad run........
Next, Manchester City away. If this latest pile of dung is anything to go by best get yourself ready for the father and mother of all hidings. Lose that heavily, other results go against us, and we will be firmly in the bottom half of the table. Which, come to think of it, is all sideways-backwards football deserves.