Saturday 11th August: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 – Everton 2
Shamrock bar, Barcelona Spain
The first game of Marco Silva’s first season as Everton manager would be the only one I’d catch at home. Saying that, as an expat Evertonian living in Barcelona a home to watch the match hasn’t existed since The Loch Inn closed its doors too long ago. Now there is nowhere in town showing the Premier League footy that doesn’t carry the dubious classification of Irish Pub or charge extortionate tourist prices for beer. With the death of our beloved “local” all us Premier League fans have been turned into nomads catching the match on a stream when we can and dreaming of turning a bar, any bar, into our something resembling our beloved fallen Mecca.
Saying all that though, with today being the only time I’ll catch the blues in Barca this year, and with that dreaded vein of what is likely misplaced confidence stirring in my poor, stupid Evertonian heart I think jib it, lets watch the match out somewhere. The Shamrock is the best I’ve got really and with hardly anyone interested in watching a team that was playing Championship football last year playing a team that, even worse, was managed by Sam Allardyce last year I head out to meet Gamble and Dodd. A pair of koppites yeah, but a pair of good scousers to boot. Let’s get the ale in lads.
Saying that about Wolves being in the Championship last year, they’re fancied to do well this year with a fresh Portuguese contingent bolstering there already tasty squad, and the fabled João Mourinho playing in midfield. At least us Evertonians will finally get to see if this guy actually exists or not, or was merely some exotic distraction blue Bill was using to distract us while he blasted the Arteta money on sets for his plays.
Even though a deadline day splurge, orchestrated by Everton’s sexiest ever Dutch man, has got me daring to believe, by the time I get the pub that sneaky vein of confidence is doing somersaults in my gut. One minute I think this is going to be our year and the next I’m thinking we need to be careful what we wish for.
Everton is a club that for a decade or two at least has been painfully slow at doing business. For years we’ve waited until the last possible moment to get our biggest deals across the line. Last year was different, admittedly, but the way Steve Walsh haphazardly drew a string of number 10s out of a hat and decided we didn’t need to replace the best striker we’ve had in the Premier League era meant, as usual, Everton fans had been glued to their screens come deadline day last year and had all gone to bed disappointed. Other years though, our deadline day dealings have given us a lift and helped us build a bit of momentum. This year was one of them and with us signing a host of impressive names to cover positions where we actually needed to strengthen, Evertonians were beginnging to think about winning things again.
As kick off approached though, my jitters were getting stronger. I was still rocking a bad bisto hangover and it was hard to shake.
Who knew then that the perfect hangover cure for too much gammon would be the £40m Brazilian we signed when we broke the transfer market. I was dubious of the Richarlison signing at the time, but before long I realised it gave us an exciting Brazilian winger and freed up Gylfi to play down the middle. I’m really hoping the hard working Sigurddson will slowly drop further back as the season progresses and starts pinging more and more boss balls to our two, yes two, Brazilian wingers, Walcott, and hopefully Ademola Lookman.
For our opening game of the season though, it was all about Richarlison. A poor first touch from Jags, a lunge, and a criminal red card put us down to ten men not long after our gangly Brazilian had scored his first Everton goal. A belting free kick brought Wolves back into the game, but unperturbed the blues controlled the game and went on to lead the game. A Thierry Henryesque second from Richarlison had us coasting. We really should have won it. We didn’t though, we conceded a header from a soft set piece. The game finished 2-2. Everton took a point away from home in a game we played more than half of with only ten men.
Lots to be positive about then. Not least because I got to see the whole match, but in the most Everton way of doing things, the game left us all thinking we should have been walking away with more. Still, our absolute bargain of a Brazilian was the only one of our new signings to play. We controlled the game and played exciting football with basically the same players that he who shan’t be named played with last year. With a string of new and exciting names to come into the side maybe this is going to be our year. Maybe this blog is going to be an account of me trying to find anywhere and everywhere I can watch the mighty blues play as we win the fucking lot, or even just the league cup. Maybe, who knows. We’re Everton aren’t we?