Love them or hate them, Everton have done a fine job in securing European football for another season and David Moyes has again proven what a good manager he is.
A third consecutive top six finish plus an FA Cup Final appearance is assured. Combine this with long-term injuries to key-players such as Mikel Arteta and Yakubu, and this constitutes a great campaign for any team outside the top 4.
Bearing in mind their shaky start to the season and the criticism Moyes sustained for not strengthening extensively in the summer, The Toffees can be happy with their lot.
Everton are a aside I can admire and one I think with which West Ham have an affinity – a community-founded team with a tradition of good football and loyal, genuine fans, often cast in the shadow of more illustrious neighbours.
If only Tim Cahill didn’t play for them, I think we would all get along really well. What is it with Cahill? At least our Australian has the good grace to be less annoying than Tim Cahill.
2. Onward Tristan Soldiers
As has been the case before this season, we are currently struggling to find the back of the net relative to the amount of chances created.
Diego Tristan is currently campaigning for an extension to his contract. The previously extinct striker has got a couple of goals of late, but was largely if not entirely absent against Liverpool.
Di Michele spurned our best chance of the weekend by embarrassingly falling to the ground like a pissed ballerina, and together our two forwards made a toothless pair.
Carlton Cole is back in the matchday squad having missed the last eight games after hobbling off injured in England’s 4-0 win over Slovakia back in March. Cole will doubtless feature and there is even a chance he could start as he has undergone a full week’s training.
A genuine physical presence upfront would provide a welcome break from Di Michele’s well-meaning forays and Tristan’s ethereal zombie meanderings.
By and large, we don’t do well at Goodison Park. Or against Everton generally. Or, as Saturday’s 3-0 loss and an embarrassing FA Cup 3rd round defeat to Tranmere ten years ago illustrate, against any team from the Merseyside area.
In the history of the Premier League, we have only won at Goodison twice, having lost eight times. We’ve been on the wrong end of 6-0 and 5-0 drubbings and escaped with just three draws.
Last season was one of those draws, ending as it did 1-1 and yet producing one of the better away performances of Alan Curbishley’s spell in charge.
James Tomkins hit the bar four minutes into his first team debut before being turned inside out for Yakubu’s opening goal, substitute Freddie Sears terrorised Phil Jagielka, hitting the post in injury time, and Dean Ashton scored a lovely equalising header.
That remains one of my favourite goals from our very own peroxide blonde biscuit barrel, along with this one and how long ago does that seem?
4. Be Still My Twitching Knee
I recently happened to chance upon a copy of The Daily Mail in a canteen, discarded by the tea-lady once it had lost its absorbency.
Buried deep among the balanced reporting of how immigrants are planning on using confused WW2 veterans as a delivery system for a giant cancer bomb they are planning to detonate in your children’s schools, I happened upon an article detailing the results of a recent poll commissioned by Disney.
It was based upon the public’s perception of Britain’s most talented family. The Attenborough’s came top, followed by the McCartneys. Nothing amiss there, you would think.
Nestling at number 9 were the Redknapps. Now hate him or loathe him, but Harry is good at what he does. So far as I am aware he constitutes one member of said family.
Jamie Redknapp is an unequivocal twat.
Sometimes I fear for this country, I really do.
Saturday’s loss and Fulham’s good form do not bode well for hopes of European qualification, but this could prove no bad thing in the long-term.
I think we would all gladly sacrifice a few jaunts to the Continent if it were to come at the expense of soundly based progress on the domestic front.
The two schools of thought are that either (a) European football will make our current crop of players better for the experience or, (b) could prove a damaging distraction from our meat and potatoes League standing and overstretch an ill-equipped squad.
A happy compromise could be qualification for the Europa League followed by a swift exit after a couple of rounds. Preferably with away fixtures somewhere hot.
That way, the squad gets experience before focusing on the League and we get a couple of Jolly Boys Outings.
6. The Last Line
Up until Steven Gerrard foiled Lucas Neill’s laboured attempt to play him offside in little over a minute, our recent defensive performances had been solid.
Prior to Liverpool’s win, we had conceded just four goals in our previous nine games, going back to the beginning of March.
James Tomkins is providing genuine competition for places and Danny Gabbidon has nearly timed his return from injury perfectly to coincide with the end of the season,
Everton can boast an equally resilient back line however, having recently set a new club record of 16 clean sheets for the season, breaking the prior best of 15 set in the mid-90’s.
No mean feat when you consider that the previous holders also had the irrefutable advantage of Neville Southall in goal, a man whose individual supply of half-time chocolate oranges kept Terry’s in business right through the 80’s.