Diplomatic Immunity: Everton

An occasional series of open discussions with opposition fans. They can say what they like about Chelsea and I promise not to be rude back to them.

Number 3:  Toffee Time

Why Everton?

As a Scouser, what’s the choice? Tranmere? I used to go to watch them play sometimes, but when you’re a kid you want a bit more razzamatazz don’t you? You want to see the big names play. I still go to Tranmere sometimes now, I went last season and enjoyed it. There’s a nice atmosphere down Prenton Road way.

What about Liverpool?

There’s no need to swear!  Anyway, what about Liverpool?

Okay, when did you start supporting Everton?

I was 8 when I knew I was Evertonian. I’d been to a couple of games, but then one day something changed in me: the shape of the stands, (do you remember the arc behind the goal?), the sounds, the smells, the colour of the grass, they all contributed. I knew Goodison was my place.

What was the first game you remember?

I don’t know, I think I remember the 66 Cup Final, but maybe that’s wishful thinking, but I honestly don’t know which game I went to first. May not even have been Everton.

What’s with Everton’s nickname, The Toffees?

Something to do with a Toffee Shop near Goodison Park which sold Everton mints. That was way back, 1900 or 1901. Since then, the name Toffeemen or the Toffees has stuck.

What memory of Everton will you still remember when your memory has finally faded and you are old and senile?

What do you mean “when”…? The 1984 Cup Final has always stayed with me, especially Andy Gray’s goal. He got there a split second before the keeper and headed it out of his hands almost! That was after Sharps quick turn and shot, lovely goal. The atmosphere was terrific – even if I was watching it on a telly in Bolton of all places.

The goalkeeper that day was our ex, Steve Sherwood. Anyway, if you had to pick your favourite Everton player of all time, who would it be?

You’d probably like me to pick Pat Nevin wouldn’t you? But no, it’s Kevin Ratcliffe. Fast, strong, a great tackler – imagine John Terry with pace. I loved him. It helped he played in a great side, too.

Back to the present day – who is your favourite player at the moment?

I’ve really got a soft spot for the young guns coming through, Jackie Rodwell and so on, so your people better keep your hands off. But I’d go for Marouane Fellaini, just ahead of Tim Cahill. If we can keep him – hell, we’ve really got to keep him – he will be a lynchpin at the middle of the park.

He took a while to settle here I think, judging by his performances, but moving back to defensive mid has improved his game and his control. Brilliant, in all honesty he can play anywhere, but I fear he may going walkies soon. Bill Kenwright’s really got to pull something out of the hat again to keep him. Fingers crossed.

Are there any off-field issues are facing Everton at the moment?

I suppose you are asking that because of your Pitch Owners situation. Don’t you trust the big Russian then? Anyway, apart from the everlasting finance problems facing us, nothing really. I’d like to get a rich billionaire in to give us loadsamoney, but to be honest I’m happy with old Bill Kenwright.

Everton have become renowned for their ability to compete at Premiership level without having Premiership finances. How do you manage this?

Yes, times have changed havent they? Forty years ago we were running with best of them but now we’ve been left behind by the influence of tv money and foreign owners. It’s hard. But a bleedin great youth system and a superb manager mean that we might have our odd scare during the season, call it a flirtation with relegation, but we generally finish well in the top half of the table. I’m convinced there are only five teams better than Everton at the moment, and maybe three or four more who are on a par.

How do you view your performance so far this season?

Patchy, but injuries and loss of players have played a big part. Early days yet though I think.

And how do you see your season going this time around?

Like I said I’m convinced there are five teams better than Everton, and maybe three or four more who are on a par so with a bit of luck we could be competing for Europe come next May. In all honesty though, I think 8th would be a good finish – but Moyesy and Kenwright have pulled signings out of the bag for us before, so come January we may just get a player or two to give us that added push and make Europe more than just a dream. It’s certainly possible.

And how are you going to fare at Stamford Bridge on Saturday?

We’ve got the knack of getting something from your people, so I’m quietly confident of at least a point. Then again I saw your back four earlier in the season and even John Terry looks to be losing it, they were all over the place sometimes, so there’s a bit of me thinks we can come away with a win. Last minute header – there’s a prediction for you, Everton win 2-1.

Are you going to the game?

Just try to keep me away!

Have you ever been to Stamford Bridge?

I’m a lucky omen for David Moyes I think. I’ve been three times in the last – what? – four or five years or so, and we’ve never lost.  I used to go a few times a season when I lived in London – I was in Uni down there. Saw a few good players then – Colin Pates – did I see him play alongside Mickey Droy? That’s what I remember anyway. Fillery too. But generally you had a crap side then. Think I saw them draw against Wigan or Grimsby in a midweek Cup match in 1978/79, dire game. Has that bought back any memories for you?

Too many! So, are you a closet Chelsea fan? Why don’t you man-up and come out of the closet?

No, I could never follow Chelsea, obviously. One of the reasons I used to go down to Chelsea is because I used to hate them and I couldn’t risk not being there when we took points off them!

If you hated Chelsea, why did you still go there?

Well, sort of love-hate relationship really. I admit I used to quite like Chelsea many years ago, especially when you used to beat that team from the common side of Stanley Park. You beat them 4-2 one year, don’t remember when, but Zola scored and Vialli too I think.

Mark Hughes came on at half-time when we were 0-2 down and changed that game.

Yes, and years before that I think you beat them 3-2 or 4-2 in the FA Cup. You had a pretty poor side, I think you may have been in the old second division then. I was living in London then, made me laugh out loud that result! Really wiped the smile off their faces. You got to respect Liverpool I suppose but even so it’s great when they lose.

Back to hating Chelsea though, that started when Abramovich took over. There was an arrogance then I think, too much splashing the cash, it turned the league upside down and when Mourinho came, everyone hated him, me included. What Chelsea fans called self-confidence most other people call arrogance. It certainly didn’t do much for Chelsea. Chelsea bought their first title, no doubt about it, until the money arrived you were nowhere, that was what I didn’t like.

Did you know that Chelsea had finished third the season before that?

Did they? Okay, perhaps “nowhere” is too strong then. But still, I don’t think anyone liked Chelsea. Then when Mourinho went, they started firing all their managers. They just weren’t behaving properly. Personally, I couldn’t stand anything about Chelsea until Ancelotti took over. He bought a bit of style, a bit of class.

What do you think of our new manager, Andre Villas-Boas?

Excellent. Stylish, classy, young. New ideas. I’d like to see him do well, because he has done well at Porto and for me he seems to combine the best bits of a couple of managers like Mourinho’s attention to detail, Ferguson’s motivation and so on. Don’t know whether he can make it in the Premiership, it’s a lot different to Portugal, but personally I think he will.

Your favourite Chelsea Everton game?

Anything recent – apart from that Final of course. Quickest ever goal though.

Don’t remind me. What is your prediction for Chelsea this season?

Third, but that will be good in what I see as a transition season. I like your peoples emphasis on younger players, I like it that you are beginning to use the younger players more. I also like the new attacking style – personally I don’t think it’s as gung-ho attacking as some people make out, but it’s certainly easier on the eye, and I do quite enjoy watching them now.

So, yes, third in the League, no cup wins though, sorry. Another empty season, but I think you will see improvement in style and flair as the season goes on.

If there was one player from Chelsea you could have for free….

Josh McEachran. Quite a phenomenon and he has his whole career in front of him. From what I’ve seen, in a year or two he’ll be as good as Lampard, Gerrard, only inexperience is holding him back. Hope he gets that this season and next.

Club or Country?

Both. A balance has to be struck, so yes, both.

Prediction time! Your prediction for the top three for the Premiership this season is?

Man City, Man U and Spurs. [Laughs] No, not really, I can’t see United sticking the pace, I don’t think their young players can keep this sort of form up. Ferguson will ensure they finish second of course, because much as I hate to say it, that man is a genius. It’s City for me all the way. Tidy coach, superb squad who must keep up the pressure now early on. Chelsea to finish third, but for me Chelsea and Manure will be a good five points or more behind City.

FA Cup?

Difficult one. An outsider, I think. What about a Championship team, to beat the likes of Blackburn or Wolves?

Champions League?

Barca. Who else. Chelsea? Nah, no chance. Another quarter final berth for your people. I’m not even considering Manure or Arsenal, they just haven’t got the squads.

Five star dining at an upmarket restaurant, or bacon, egg and chips at a greasy spoon?

Five star dining every time. I’ll take the bacon eggs and chips as breakfast and then the posh nosh in the evening. With a fine red. Or two. Or three.

Politics? Or shouldn’t I ask?

You shouldn’t ask, politics and football shouldn’t mix. But as you asked, I don’t really bother, but more to the left and being pushed further by this bunch of halfwits.

Last, but not least, because I enjoy asking this one: how does it feel to be above Arsenal in the table?

Not just above them, but above them AND with a game in hand. They have massively underperformed so far and losing Fabregas and Nasri isn’t really an excuse – even without them they should have done better. I admire their loyalty to Wenger, but there is a line when loyalty turns to stupidity, and I can see some Arsenal fans think the club have reached that point now.

But it’s where we are at the end of the season that counts, and above Arsenal would suit me fine then. Oh, and one last thing: Nil Satis Nisi Optimum. That’s Everton, mate, nothing but the best!

Comments are closed.