As Rebecca Black correctly points out ‘It’s Friday, Friday, got to get down on Friday’. That’s all well and good but before we ‘get down’ @AmyEustace is getting her claws out and ripping into ‘boring boring’ Everton…
The Merseyside Derby is worth its attendance in column inches. Generally the majority of those inches are taken up by the red half of Liverpool, probably the most infuriatingly gaffe-prone club in the world. Meanwhile, in the blue corner, Everton drift along quietly; bothering no one, impressing just about everyone. Aren’t they just smashing?
I’ve always had a lot of respect for Everton, until I stopped and wondered why that was. It was at that point that I realised: as it happens, they’re actually incredibly boring.
Everton are one of those clubs; those piddly, mid-table clubs that win the hearts and minds of neutrals because they consistently punch above their weight, commit a case or two of top-four slaying and haunt the corridors of
European qualification. Under David Moyes, they are effective, inoffensive (save for Marouane Fellaini’s eyebrow situation) and lauded for their cost efficiency. They are, simply put, the kind of club that are always there-or-thereabouts, which is precisely my problem.
Consistency and thriftiness are such rare commodities in the Premier League these days that you can understand where the Everton plaudits are coming from. Annoyingly, though, the same familiar old praise has been churned out in every Moyesian narrative of the past three or four years.
David Moyes himself, I imagine, is a decent chap and all that, but he’s also one of the most mind-numbingly frustrating men in football. He doesn’t wage war with the media, or fellow managers. He occasionally gets a bee in his bonnet over refereeing decisions, but apart from that, he rarely has anything controversial or groundbreaking to say. He’s respectable, yes, but he’s the kind of guy who probably eats a bowl of muesli for breakfast. And likes it.
Everton are absurdly predictable. They have finished between 5th and 8th for all of the past six seasons, and look set to finish in that bracket this year as well. Though they, like their Merseyside neighbours, have fallen foul of City and Spurs’ top four ascension, they still feature heavily year after year in the race for fourth storyline, or at least the prize everyone’s really after – Europa League qualification. Consistent? Absolutely. But consistently average.
Competing with clubs far more financially flush than themselves is certainly something to be proud of, but aside from a fourth place finish in 2005 and an FA Cup final berth in 2009, David Moyes has achieved absolute diddly squat with the Toffees in his 10 years at Goodison. LMA awards abound, but when his tenure boils down to winning nothing, but doing it on the cheap, what really makes him so great?
Essentially, while Spurs are shopping in Tesco and City are shopping in Marks and Spencers, Moyes has cottoned onto the trade secret that Morrisons is just as good, only less likely to break Everton’s already fairly broken bank .
He has cracked into varied markets and unearthed some decent talents, scooping Belgian winger Kevin Mirallas from relative obscurity in Greece. Nikica Jelavic was even good, for a little while, although now he gets a kind of bewildered look in front of goal, similar to that which I presume Fellaini gets when he sees a pair of scissors.
What is David’s dream?
If the Scot has detractors, I’ve yet to meet any – at least ones who aren’t of the red persuasion. Everyone else seems to prescribe to Moyes’ solid-as-a-rock image. He has proved himself competent, but not excellent, and while Everton fans will probably lose sleep over his stalled contract negotiations, it seems like he’s building something there. What I can’t really figure out is what he’s supposed to be building.
Breaking into the top four, as City and Spurs have demonstrated, takes a great deal of money and an ample supply of luck; two things which Everton have never truly been in great supply. A cup wouldn’t go amiss, but Moyes hasn’t exactly chucked the kitchen sink at those competitions, suggesting that maybe he’s more motivated by settling in his sixty point comfort zone in the league. Are Everton actually going anywhere, or just treading the same old trail between good and great that contains them just below the top four waterline?
This weekend’s derby will be a good indicator. It’s 14 years since Everton have won at Anfield. Their away form has been poor this term overall, with just four wins as visitors all season. Liverpool will be without Suarez, whose performances in previous derbies will most likely have given Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin headaches (that’s without biting anyone), but that didn’t seem to bother them much in Newcastle last week, where they won 6-0. If Liverpool’s win-one-lose-one season formula applies here, Everton could steal the victory and earn an important three points in the fight to keep their heads above their local rivals for a second consecutive season.
Merseyside Derbies, whatever the context, are always intense, hardboiled affairs. The city truly loves its football, and while Everton have one-upped their neighbours in terms of bragging rights lately, right now they seem to lack the ambition that keeps Liverpool fighting tooth (ahem) and nail for something better. This could be their best chance at snatching superiority and making a real statement for intent. The crown is there for the taking; it’s just a question of whether Everton, and Moyes especially, have the brass nerve to grab it.
Hats off to American sport
NBA star Jason Collins stunned and impressed the sports world this week by becoming the first from America’s top four men’s professional sports to come out as gay. Not usually a sport to be ahead of the social curve, soccer in America has already had its first openly gay player in former Leeds United player Robbie Rogers. Rogers quit the game that had ‘hid his secret’ after announcing his sexuality two months ago, but trained with L.A. Galaxy on Tuesday, with Galaxy coach Bruce Arena claiming that the MLS ‘is a progressive league’.
On top of that, as if everyone wasn’t deeply in love with Germany already, Angela Merkel and Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness both spoke in strong support of any closeted German footballers at a conference this week, with Merkel assuring them that they have ‘nothing to fear’.
Friday’s fuzzy feeling
While we’re at it on the MLS and things that make you go all fuzzy inside, Portland Timbers held an exhibition match this week…for an 8 year old cancer patient. 3,000 supporters showed up to watch Atticus Lane–Dupree and his team of kids take on the MLS side, in which he scored the winning goal, in a match specially arranged by Make A Wish Oregon.
An audience with the Pope
Javier Zanetti, Inter legend and current captain (at the whopping age of 39), met the only slightly older Pope Francis I last week. The new Pontiff is the first to hail from Zanetti’s home country of Argentina, but it doesn’t seem to be working in the favour of footballers from his homeland. He couldn’t lend the power of the Holy Spirit to Lionel Messi for the evening on Wednesday, and when Zanetti played his first game after visiting the new pope last weekend, he was stretchered off the pitch with a ruptured Achillies tendon.
Asked if he could persuade Francis I to support Inter, Zanetti diplomatically replied, “No, the Pope cheers only for a better world.” I have it on good authority that he actually supports his local club, San Lorenzo, but since Zanetti has had a bad week I suppose we’ll let that glaring cliché slide for now.