Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Preview: The Mighty vs Everton

I don't normally do a match preview, because let's face it, we're usually playing Rotherham or someone and who would want to write (or read) 1000 words about Rotherham?. To be fair, if we weren't and we were playing Southampton, Leicester or Man City, it probably wouldn't make much difference because they're all a bunch of fly-by-nights not fit to rub shoulders with a club of our class and majesty but there's few grander, older teams than Everton. 

Of all the other, lesser sides in the football world, Everton are the one for which I have the softest spot. 

Goodison is a wonderful place. A time warp that when it's rocking and if you squint a bit and ignore the logos on the shirts and block out the exotic names of the players, allows you to imagine that football is as it ever was. The looming loss of Goodison makes me sad. It's just about the only place in football where the architecture of my childhood football mind still exists in reality. It's one of the few places where you can see the same stands that framed grainy black and white photos playing host to the new world of Football 2.0 (tagline: 'Football, but with added geopolitics and debt') 

Does that matter? I don't know, but do manor houses matter? Do the kind of places that the National Trust charge you £17 to walk around and look at oil paintings and four poster beds from behind thick red ropes matter? This is a ground that has seen Dixie Dean, Sandy Young, Big Nev, Colin Harvey and Preki to name but a few. A ground that has existed on the same spot for 128 years and still squeezes in 40,000 every week, still rises up, sheer faced and stoic from amidst terraced streets and grim looking pubs. Countless millions have squeezed through turnstiles and spent the best (and worse) parts of their week there. Not a few rich people kipping in a posh bed and ordering servants about, but the living breathing masses of a city. 

I don't want to depress you before the season has started but...(whisper it...) life can be shit. Most of us are unremarkable, most of us achieve little or nothing other than turning a handle in a system we don't understand and those 90 minutes of football are the vivid technicolour dreamlike moments that stand in contrast to the grey sleepwalking anxiety of the rest. Few things are experienced as intensely as football when watched live. Few places as have played host to so much of that intensity as Goodison.

If buildings are important in anyway, if buildings have any soul or symbolise the human spirit and experience that passed through them, if history matters at all, then bulldozing Goodison is like bulldozing the colosseum in Rome and saying 'yes, but the new one will have a tunnel club and more catering, it's all about revenue streams these days.' 

I want it transported, brick by brick, in complete form, to Beamish as a reminder of our history. I couldn't give a fuck about the lord of the manor's toilet or an oil painting of Vice Admiral Roislip the Third. There's barely a brick of our football history been saved and Goodison would work as a placeholder for every great ground that now lies beneath a housing estate or industrial park. Why can we only preserve the history of the rich and wars? Is a lawn and gardens any more valid than an Archibald Leitch grandstand? 

I also like Everton for being resolutely pointless for ages. It doesn't seem to matter what they do. Spend nothing, or spend the family silver, they're broadly the same. They're like a great constant. A massive club that isn't massive. They're huge. They're global, they're a monolith, a leviathan, but they don't seem like it. There's a resigned pessimism in Everton fans that makes you feel like they're there for the right reasons. They go, because it's Everton and nothing else. Somehow, despite being the longest constant in the top flight, they feel a bit separate from it.  

So we've established I like them more than Rotherham. Do you care? Probably not. 


I wouldn't ever try to do some sort of Sky Sports preview where I bluffed my way through knowing about other teams. I'm not arsed about anyone else other than us but Everton are a bit different than most to me so here's my take on them. (literally what I said I wouldn't do. I know. Sue me) 

They seem to have undergone an identity crisis for about 5 or 6 years. I don't know if that's the right word. Possibly they've attempted to undergo an identity crisis but failed. Like having a makeover but someone just dresses you up in your own clothes. 

For years they were 'backs against the wall, tooth and nail plucky fighters, paying for players with bags of Everton mints and some money off vouchers for Bill Kenwright's West End shows.

We knew where we were with them. Under Moyes they fought without footballing as much as they wanted, under Martinez they footballed without fighting as much as they wanted. Stuff seemed broadly equal to me. Different routes to the same end.

Then they got one of those interchangeable foreign billionaire owners who I can't be arsed remembering cos they're boring as fuck and bought loads of players and we thought they were going to be bang on it now. Like Wolves or whoever is the latest club people  who get paid money to talk shit about football say 'You've got to admire what they've done there...' but it didn't make any difference.

So then they brought in Big Fat Sam which was a good laugh for everyone except them and didn't make any obvious difference and now they have Carlo Ancelotti, who seems like a lovely fella but doesn't seem to have made all that much difference all in all. 

I'm sure they feel the difference, I'm sure they'll point out the heroes and villains and the ups and downs but from the outside, it feels a bit like, no matter what they do, the line stays pretty straight. We've been up to the top and back to the bottom of the whole structure, whilst they've moved up and down a mini league of about 5 places. 

The one game where I've noticed them in recent times was when they beat Chelsea with Duncan Ferguson and played 1990s football but really really well and Chelsea were confused and frightened and Goodison was primal. 

I don't know the squad in depth. Richarlison is obviously class, Pickford is a very good keeper if a bit reminiscent of Zebedee from of off the Magic Roundabout and maybe one of those players who'd be better playing for a shit team because I feel like he gets bored.

I like Dominic Calvert Lewin, even if I suspect he's doomed to be not quite as good as everyone wants him to be. They've got really good kids and I like that they give them a chance. They've also got loads of nippy runners they bought from big clubs who didn't want them in the hope the big clubs had got it wrong but generally, it turns out that the big clubs hadn't and whilst none of them are shite, I can't imagine any of them winning the league either. I think they've got a European lad who plays wide who is sometimes dead good but I can't remember his name. Reminds me a bit of Pat Nevin when I've seen him. Little and tricky and glides.  

Point is though, compared to what we've played, these lot are unreal. What I want to see today is: What happens to Michael Nottingham and the like when they come up against some serious opposition? What happens to Teddy Howe when Iwobi runs at him. I think we need this test to see how weak the defence is. We all feel it's an issue, but how much of an issue is it? We don't need a stonewall to win games if we can score a few, but we can't afford a sieve either. 

Our new attacking style is also something that will be no stranger to Everton. The last derby match was dire, but Everton did a good job in nullifying their neighbours and whilst our rotating forwards and overloading down the flanks is canny stuff that might blow the minds of some League One sides, there is a danger that it will be met with a weary roll of the eyes from Everton's highly coached, highly experienced pan-global squad that will just hold us at arms length until we tire ourselves out then score at will till they get bored. 

The better the opposition, the more likely they'll target the weakness. Will Shaw and Antwi be able to look as comfortable if they play. Will Thorniley get matched up with a player who is not only big, but also very skillful? (basically either of their forwards?) What about Big Marvin's creative use of the ball at the back? Will that get punished again? Dare we do the weird goal kicks where we start a move from our own six yard box? 

It's only a friendly and Everton might just jog round a bit so we'll learn nothing, but none the less, it's a test for Critchley's fearless brand of football. We've not really played anyone we should have approached with fear, nor anyone who probably wouldn't have been beaten by Larry last year. Lest we forget, we swiped Morecambe aside a few times without even breaking much sweat and thus, whilst we've played well against Barrow and Port Vale, we've not been tested and mostly been able to control the play. We've conceded a few but not really faced more than about 20 minutes of concerted pressure across all three games. 

For me, the most intriguing thing about our new style is how we play when it doesn't work or when we're the lesser set of players on the pitch. Fitness and skill should see us beat teams, but we won't always be more fit and sometimes we'll be less skillful. 

I hope today's game either shows we're stronger than we thought at the back or conversely, exposes exactly where the weaknesses are. 


Finally, the £5.99 thing. 

I have done some actual journalism. I know. How unlikely! I spoke to a source who works in a media team at a football club with their own broadcast unit/team (not Everton fwiw.) He suggested that between £5k-£10K was an absolute base cost for broadcasting a game (with a single camera) in anything resembling a professional manner. Once you add in HD/4K quality to the stream, replays, multiple angles, mixing etc, he suggested 'costs could rise rapidly' - as well as the need for further cameras if you have 'a presenter' and increasingly complex mixing the more voices you use in the production) 

He estimated an ifollow type feed would be cheaper but would still cost about £5k to produce, mix and broadcast. 

I add this in as the price of the game has been a source of debate and some disappointment amongst the fanbase.

It's clear the club spent money bringing the previous games to us for nothing. It might only have been a couple of thousand quid, but it was money. The production of this game is apparently a cut above with a professional feel to it. If we're looking at multiple angles, then we're talking at very least £10k+ to broadcast. 

I feel really uncomfortable saying supporting a club is linked to a financial spend and telling working class fans to go and give a hedge fund manager their money 'because he deserves it', but the truth is, Sadler has already spent way, way more than he'd have likely budgeted for and not put a foot wrong to date in terms of what he's trying to do. He's had every excuse to stop 'steaming ahead' with his plans but doesn't appear to have taken them. The price of this game is what it is, as the cost of providing a professional set up, dictates it needs to paid for. We don't have that set up in house, so we have to buy into Everton's. There is no chance on earth a Premier League club would have agreed to us broadcasting a rival stream for free. None.  

If the club make a few quid, great. We've never had this service before and we've had three games for nothing. It's an event and the club have tried to be professional about it. If they'd done the same as last games, inevitably someone would have called them 'tinpot.'

Season tickets sales are half of what they were and I would imagine shirt sales are thus suppressed too with less people going to the shop. Sponsorship will be down across the board and there's no immediate prospect of matchday revenue. Essentially we're working on an income probably 30-50% of last years, and yet we have new signings, optimism and positivity. They've got to pay people and sadly, success costs. It is what it is. No one has to pay it and it doesn't make you a better fan for having money or paying for things. That's not the point. I think the point is more that it's damned if you do and damned if you don't for the club. 

Never mind all that pseudo reasonable shite I just wrote. We're playing Everton at home. Can't wait. Who gives a fuck about broadcast costs anyway? 




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