Everton’s game against Chelsea this Saturday will be a measure of how far the club has come this term.
The result we get – and more importantly how we go about getting it – could set us up for a strong finish to the season.
We usually do well against the Blues and have drawn six of our last eight games at Stamford Bridge.
I remember we played Chelsea in the 1997/98 season when Tony Thomas was with us. Howard Kendall saw him in the dug out and told him to warm up. Tony made no move. A few minutes passed and he’s still sitting there.
Howard looks at him again and barks, what the f*** are you doing, get stripped, you’re going on.
Tony just looks at him and says: “But boss, I’m not in the side.”
Howard had just seen his face but didn’t realise he was sat there in a suit!
That’s the pressure cooker that football managers exist in and Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is a master at exploiting it.
He’s already had a pop at “specialist in failure” Arsene Wenger’s record at the Gunners. And he keeps goading Manuel Pellegrini that Manchester City should be winning the league as they’re the best side in it.
Some people get on their high horse about it but it’s no use saying: “Shut up, you knobhead what the f*** do you know?
Mourinho’s record speaks for itself. What manager or player can turn round to him and say: What the f*** have you done in the game?
His CV is ridiculous. He’s been successful at every club he’s managed. Six trophies with Porto in two seasons. Five with Chelsea in his first stint in charge and another half dozen between Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
OK, so he gets on your tits a bit but there’s a lot of truth to what he says.
Pellegrini? You’ve got the best team – you should be winning the league. Most people would agree with that. Arsene Wenger’s record at Arsenal? He’s not won a trophy since 2005. Who’s telling the truth there?
But Mourinho is clever in the way he goes about it too. He just doesn’t say to Arsenal, you’re shit. He says you’ve got such a good team, you should have done better. And even their own fans will go, ah f*** yeah, he’s got a point.
What he’s doing most of the time is taking the pressure off his players and diverting attention away from Chelsea’s weaknesses.
It’s no coincidence that the nearer the end of the season gets the mouthier he’s becoming. All it seems to be doing though is ramping up the pressure on the other title challengers.
He’s worth nine points a season to Chelsea is Mourinho, make no mistake. He’s been great for the Premier League too since his return. There’s some boring buggers in it that never express an opinion and are just bland.
If Mourinho had been appointed Manchester United manger would they be struggling to make the top four?
- Cross over to Neville’s 6/1 weekend acca here
Anyway, Everton are first up on Saturday against Chelsea in the early game on BT Sport (12.45).
There’s so many former Liverpool players on that show it’s like watching LFC TV at times. It drives Evertonians mad.
There’s a danger that if Roberto Martinez starts the big man Lacina Traore that the Toffees could start to launch it if things aren’t going their way. The Ivorian is 6’ 7” and scored in the 3-1 FA Cup debut win against the Swans last weekend with a back-heel. What Everton really need to keep doing is get the ball wide to Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines to deliver quality crosses into the box.
We’re well capable of getting a draw but I’d like to see Steven Naismith (above) start up front.
Naismith is 10/1 to open the scoring with Paddy Power and 7/2 to score anytime and the Scot has four goals in his last five games.
Martinez will need to be careful in midfield though. Oscar and Eden Hazard can do damage and have been getting goals for the Blues all season. We’ve already beaten Chelsea 1-0 at Goodison earlier in the season. I’ll go for us to get a 1-1 result at 13/2.
BIG NEV’S 6/1 WEEKEND ACCA:
- ARSENAL to beat Sunderland
- MAN UNITED to beat Crystal Palace
- MAN CITY to beat Stoke
- LIVERPOOL to beat Swansea
- TOTTENHAM to beat Norwich
Tackle that 6/1 weekend acca here