APPLIED MATHEMATICS V PURE MATHEMATICS
Mickey Blue Eyes
Prior to our Saturday match El Bob took Our Boys to the feudal rich oil state of Qatar for a few days of "warm weather training and bonding." Whatever that is. We waited with bated breath for the after affects; using precedent, Dan texted me to say he had been under the weather at work recently and asked for a week in Bermuda at employer expense. They said No. Out in the land of the thowp and abaya perhaps Our Boys were re-introduced to each other and the notion that if they fail to buck up they might soon be staring at the prospect of a serious wages cut. Speaking as someone who spent two decades in that beige-tinted area of the world I can tell you there is a limit, unlikely as it seems, to the balm of blue skies, palm trees, turquoise seas and warm temperatures. Especially when you return during an English winter and current ugly realities of Western life.
In the interim Samuel Eto'o left for Sampdoria amid tales of disruption allegedly caused by him at Finch Farm. I have no idea how true were the rumours. But certainly he will be missed as a formidable impact substitute in the twilight of his career, a playing loss if not a morale plus. Few will forget his display at Burnley, one of our rare highlights in this misery of a season. Therefore a great pity if the stories hold some truth: if accurate, of course he had to go. No player can ever be bigger than any club. Sad, whatever the reason.
Arriving home El Bob made the mistake of exploring the limits of his English vocabulary when he referred to "proper Evertonians." I feared the worst, that he was lashing out at the precise moment rhetoric - quiet or otherwise - was least needed. By now his natural intelligence should tell him all Evertonians are "proper"(!); some are just proper miserable berks and some are proper insanely optimistic and a few are proper thugs or crooks and some are proper loyal and some are proper cynical and still others are proper philosophical; it all goes with the proper Evertonian territory. He really ought to be less outlandish and repetitive with his adverbs and adjectives......and, anyway, the era of text-tabloid speak means words of more than two syllables are Sanskrit to an entire generation. I know this from my email inbox.
Meanwhile, in the corporeal world some physics laws are inviolable. For example two separate objects with the same static properties and dimensions cannot simultaneously occupy the same space. For another, you cannot pour a pint into a half pint glass. Yet both are possible in the ether of pure mathematics, dolts and some footy fans. On still another abstract level it is quite possible for opposing thoughts to occupy the same area, thus demonstrating the difference between pure maths and applied maths. For yet one more instance, just when you thought our footy adversity could hardly worsen......it could get not just worse but disastrously worse if we lost at Crystal fucking Palace, a minor London carpetbag club in a carpetbag city so toxic with Arfer Daley corruption the wonder is it has not poisoned itself and the country to death: innocence should not be allowed near the place except to restore social decency. So I mean nothing unbiased or respectful when I say our current squad are well capable of beating their modest home team to a smooth paste in the cause of communal honesty. Therefore, the reality of our league position would make defeat all the more galling. Had we lost it might have been a mortal blow to our status and expensive hotels on the coast line of al Khaleej al Arabi, let alone the Aspire Academy, Doha.
Oh yes. The match. Applied mathematics. Even pure mathematics. Or something. Even comedy diagrams and useless statistics stating the bleeding obvious. Anything, as long as we won fair and square and the fans could re-start Roberto Had A Dream and/or Allez Allez Allez Ooooh. It was what we all wanted.
Team: Robles, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Stones, Barry, BesiÃ„â€¡, McGeady, Mirallas, Naismith, Lukaku. Bryan Oviedo came on for Kevin Mirallas with twenty minutes left and Arouna Koné for Romelu Lukaku within two minutes of the end.
Our Boys showed up with short back and sides haircuts to demonstrate they meant business. (Speaking of which, I wish Romelu would grow his dreadlocks again because it might restore his use of a Samson-like physique in the clinches. Which, funnily enough, is why he scored inside a couple of minutes of the start.) We kicked off, promptly got a throw-in on the left, gave the ball away, then they gave it back to us and it got threaded across the half way line left to right to John Stones right side of the centre circle. From whence our classy young centre back knifed a classy straight, long, forward (repeat, forward, relish it while you can) ground pass down our right where it caught a defender having an off-balance doze. Naismith was on it in angry ferret mode, took it to the goal line and hit in a hard ground cross which their 'keeper could only parry to the centre of their goal area where a Very Large Rom slid in with a puny defender trailing helplessly behind. The ball hit Our Boy on the knee and rebounded in. Naisy-Rom had struck again. Given this season, I say "again" loosely of course.
None of us got complacent. I mean, we knew what would happen next. But it came quickly even by current standards. Seemingly thirty seconds later the enemy threw an up-and-under to our right post. Their man got to it first while Joel did his eye-catching windmill mime and it got knocked into what looked an empty goal, uncannily similar to Tim's ludicrous fresh air scoop in the Goodison match. Except Jags applied mathematics and hoofed it clear, thus endorsing the laws of physics. Pre-Qatar, you felt, he would have let it bounce home. For the next ten minutes the homesters bagatelled the ball into the penalty area at every opportunity. At times it was a rerun of the closing scene in Blazing Saddles. Joel made a stunning low left save and Stonesy and Bainsey both threw themselves in front of goal bound shots right and left. Then as quickly as the storm blew up it petered out. Palace were all huff and puff and that can only get you so far even in a city that runs on undiluted bullshit; they had nothing else to offer apart from another less intense ten minutes spell in the second half. Surprise, surprise, we stood firm for a clean sheet.
The rest of the game was mostly tense and scrappy, another tiny incremental advance for us, less tippy-tappy and a relatively more direct approach in which everyone played a part. See, hope always dies last. Robles looked more confident, defence more determined, midfield more co-ordinated and consistent, though Rom is still a lonely and outnumbered figure up front. Late on we might have added a second if there had been more midfield support or McGeady had not decided to swerve a beaut into the floodlights or Rom had connected with a fast ground cross. In truth most of us were just glad to hear the final whistle and head home with three precious points that took us to twelfth and seven points clear of the bottom three, though we are still four points and two matches adrift of eleventh. I have never clutched more willingly at a straw.
Meanwhile, Roberto has become a study if you take this body language stuff seriously. Appropriately, he now wears an intense Batman frown - possibly his version of the thousand metres stare - in keeping with our position, and has almost abandoned the stance where he tucks his open palms into each armpit like a housewife squirming with cystitis; now his hands are fisted. Maybe the Qatar trip was worthwhile. Or all of it might be a load of absolute bollocks. All I know is we won 1-0. Could it just be that glimmer we see up ahead is not an oncoming train but a......?
Next week, oh joy, the home derby match.