Oh shit. This wasn’t supposed to happen.
Rhino’s permanent contract was to be confirmed shortly. His ‘on the front foot’ style with wide men and goals was supposed to thrill (but if not, at least win some games).
Sunday’s game at Leicester was to be a lovely, punch-the-air occasion – a proper 1990s Super Sunday accompanied by the first dark night of the winter, floodlights, and Unsy banging his chest to salute the victorious Blues. I’d got the real ales in and some logs for the fire, all to intensify the general feeling of loveliness that a return to Everton winning games would bring.
With the Gallagher brothers flying high in the charts again and hope of a new Labour government in the air, Everton were about to recapture the nineties vibe that so intoxicated my generation of Evertonians. I was 14 when Big Joe took the reigns. You’re only 14 once. And, apparently, you only get to see Everton win a trophy at Wembley once.
Suddenly football was so simple again. Why’d we spent 20 years messing about employing outsiders who didn’t ‘get us’? Unsy, Ebbrell, Ferguson, Royle: Everton men.
And our new man at the helm hadn’t wasted time with his ‘front foot’ proclamation – sure, he may as well have declared us the ‘Dogs of War’. He’d dropped the silky summer signing in the manner of Royle dropping Samways and he’d put faith in wingers, like Big Joe did with Anders Limpar. Things were getting exciting – in a retro kind of way.
Crucially perhaps, Unsy wasn’t gifted a big home game to get the ball rolling. Had the Chelsea game been under the lights at Goodison last Wednesday, the place would have been bouncing. A Super Sunday at home to Leicester would have had the Old Lady roaring, if not quite in the manner it did on that famous derby night for Ferguson and Rideout, at least to the point it would have awakened the new recruits as to how big a club we are.
Anyway, you can’t go blaming the fixture list – that’s clutching at straws, I guess. But it still wasn’t meant to be like this.
Three points on Sunday were to be followed up by an expansive and freer performance against Lyon. Then, finally, back at the bear pit, Unsy would experience Goodison rocking, earn us a blood-and-thunder type three points and send us all into the international break clamouring for his permanent signature.
Is it too late for that? Not necessarily. Could we beat Lyon and Watford this week? Perhaps. But after that performance, there’s some huge questions to consider, like:
1. How does he reconcile showing faith in wide men when they were the first to get the hook yesterday?
2. Who’s scoring the goals if Rideout and Ferguson aren’t? (They’re definitely not)
3. If he wanted to go full ‘Dogs of War’, who an earth in the squad is equipped with that skill set?
4. Where’s the belief coming from?
5. And when all is said and done, do these players, some of whom where pictured smirking and giggling on the bench yesterday, actually give a shit? Hell – they probably weren’t even born in 1994.
This wasn’t supposed to happen.
And if things don’t change – like, right now – who the hell is going to come in and get something out of these players?
Things can only get better?
I bloody hope so.
Reader Comments (6)
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1 Posted 30/10/2017 at 15:34:58
2. 7 goals in the league from Rooney and Niasse and no one else scores. The midfield again is the issue. As is Calvert-Lewin's failure to score in the league.
3. Dogs of war is basically just pressing and hard tackling. We can't adopt the hard tackling part of it. But we could press them hard. In the past the players were more static. If the ball was on the left, the left winger, left back and the left centre mid dealt with it. Now the team shifts to the left as a whole and so the central midfielders will shuttle over as well. We need to try to get a triangle to dominate the ball of Scneiderlin, Gueye and Davies. This would form your modern dogs of war. Alternatives are McCarthy, Baningime and Besic, providing they can stay fit of course.
4. The manager. The fans. We need to go into games and believe we will win. We did so against Leciester, and the fans were fantastic there. But, it wasn't enough. However, the atmosphere needs to be like that at home. I'm sure the fans will be up for Watford and behind the team. It's up to Unsworth to pick them up and get them going again. Bit of luck against Lyon and maybe we can believe again.
5. No, I don't think the modern players do. Case in point is Barkley. He seems to have good reasons to want to leave, but would he have done so in the past eras? The players have so much power now. Imagine if we had a young Ferguson. He'd have given the players the "hairdryer" at half-time against Leicester. He could do so when he was a big name manager who commanded respect. But imagine as a young manager now, without the kudos. The players would be on the phone to their agents demanding a move. You just can't give the players a rollicking now. All you can do is drop them, and then you get the fans demanding to know why, and you cannot say otherwise they will be demanding to leave.
2 Posted 30/10/2017 at 17:46:37
3 Posted 31/10/2017 at 08:20:38
We don't have a Premier League level striker though obviously.
Love Unsy but he shouldn't have taken Mirallas off he was the only one threatening the goal.
4 Posted 31/10/2017 at 09:03:12
5 Posted 31/10/2017 at 11:03:02
The really top ones, like Man City, Chelsea and Man Utd, are very wealthy, and can buy the best players, like we used to do. If we were focused on getting to the top, we wouldn't have sold Stones and Lukaku at the drop of a hat, or be quite happy to sell Barkley. We're mid-table, trying to get higher, so we can be in the Champions League and obtain the financial benefits that come from that. But I suspect that's the limit of our ambition. Much like Liverpool, and perhaps Spurs.
I think the 'project' that the club talked about is just the above ambition. Nothing more, unless someone with truly big wealth comes on board.
6 Posted 01/11/2017 at 09:35:31
What on earth are you talking about Jon ? Do you even understand the situation at Goodison at the moment ? You do realize what Unsworth has been asked to do ? Do you think there has ever been a manager anywhere, who could have turned around 18 months of gross mismanagement in 4 days ?
Do you have any grasp of the difference between a front foot mentality and a dogs of war attitude ? Have you not seen Koeman trying the dogs of war tactics without success ? do you think Rhino did should have employed the same tactics.
I didn't see anybody predicting a "Punch-the-air" occasion.
I didn't see anybody talking of the nineties.
I didn't see anybody mention dogs of war.
You seem to be reveling in the fact that Rhino didn't win a very difficult game, made even more difficult by the fact that he had hours rather than weeks to prepare.
Missing Ronald are we ?
Any manager and I mean ANY manager in the world would fail to turn around the shambles Rhino inherited in the time you are allowing Unsworth.
Your gloating is a little premature my friend. My money is on Everton to beat both Watford and Lyon and the whole place will be given a lift.
Try to apply a little thought to what you write. It was a very experienced "name" that got us into this situation, just as it was last time.
You are blaming the fire brigade for starting the fire
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