Everton

St James’ Park

Premier League

Saturday 28th December ‘19

3pm

After a Boxing Day consisting of self harm, culminating in extra Yuletide presents for our Mancunian hosts – it’s a quick turnaround and back to Tyneside for the visit of the Scouse mackems this weekend.

Given the amount of money lavished on their squad, it could be argued that the Toffees have been the Premiership’s biggest underachievers over the past few years. We could only sit back and watch on in envy as they’ve attacked the market with gusto. Since 16/17, they’ve spent circa £460M (with a deficit of around -£190M) on the likes of Sigurdsson, Richarlison and that little charv tosser, Pickford.

Their problem though, has clearly been picking the wrong managers during this period. Marco Silva was the latest to depart Goodison Park, having performed wretchedly. They were only on 14 points from 15 played at that point, and looking in some serious bother. It’s a shame we didn’t get to lock horns with them during his latter days, as since then they’ve turned it around with two wins (3-1 Chelsea, 1-0, Burnley – both home) and two draws (1-1 v Man U (a) & 0-0 Arsenal (h)). These were mainly under Duncan Ferguson’s tutelage, and suddenly they look an altogether different proposition.

Most recently, they’ve announced Football Royalties’ Carlo Ancelotti as the new man at the helm and got the go ahead for a spanking new ‘space age’ looking Arena at the city’s Kings Dock. It must be difficult operating in the shadow of their hugely successful neighbours, but fair’s fair, as a club they’re at least giving it a right go.

As a quick barometer, NUFC’s transfer arrears were about £29M over the years mentioned above – and that’s if you believe our Brazilian goal machine actually cost £40M. I for one, still find the undisclosed fee (widely reported as that amount), hard to swallow. Oh yeah, and our owner has just basically landlocked our ground, arresting any possibility of extra capacity to boot.

On to United….. Honestly, I reckon I’m going to require some sort of therapy for writing these regular match previews. Our Jekyll & Hyde nature makes it near impossible to predict what is going to happen next. The latest case of such turbulence was witnessed at Old Trafford yesterday, as usually reliable performers lost their nerve and handed the initiative to our previously tentative hosts. Steve Bruce received his usual amount of ‘knee jerk’ Twitter flak, but surely whatever he does tactically pales into insignificance after such a trio of individual errors?

With an eye on Saturday’s fixture he rested Jonjo, Hayden and AC in Manchester, and they will all surely come back in to the starting XI on Saturday. This will be at the expense of the Longstaffs and Dwight Gayle and will give us a much stronger looking line up.

Everton are recently much tighter at the back and have Calvert-Lewin suddenly notching. He has three in the last four and has troubled us a bit in the past. Our centre backs will need to be vigilant.

As ever, it’ll be tight and tense under the lights at a (cough) sold out SJP, but on nowt more than a hunch, I think we might just nick this one either 1-0 or 2-1.  If the football gods are listening, please can you ensure that big Andy nods the winner past the short armed mackem. Not too much to ask, is it?

Happy New Year, lads & lasses!

HTL.

Nick Clark

@Clark5Nick