What a difference a few weeks makes. At the start of the season the mood was pretty optimistic amongst our supporters and weekends were looked forward to with relish. The new season held so much promise. It didn’t last long before the rot set in and Everton ruining my weekend returned with menace.
Saturday and more often Sunday defeats and poor performances meant that a blue shadow would be cast over the weekend. As the following weekend approached a feeling of impending doom with some inevitability would take hold and the pre season optimism would dissolve further until it went completely. Two performances a few days apart and nine goals conceded to Atalanta and Southampton continued this and as December approached, a relegation fight seemed inevitable. Living in Spain I hoped the feeling would be diluted but it isn’t and the ‘downs’ hurt as much as they ever did.
Three weeks later and I have my weekends back. Instead of looking down and hoping those clubs around us would lose, I’m now looking upwards. Waiting for 3pm Saturday or Sunday was akin to awaiting your doctors appointment for a rectal examination, and just hoping to survive the experience in one piece. I now look forward to football again and my focus is on above rather than down the table.
There’s been some debate as to what Sam’s role was prior to the West Ham win. Whatever your take on it, something changed that night and the visit of Huddersfield wasn’t the potential banana skin it had threatened to be just a week earlier. The reserve teams comfortable defeat of Apollon Limassol served to remind us of what might have been and afterwards, all we had to do was return from ‘Greyskull” without being humiliated in our annual ‘roll over’.
A week on from our well earned draw and still a raft of ex Liverpool players and the odd journalist (one week on and Andy Dunn in the Sunday Mirror is still complaining about it) seem to be the only people to believe the foul on Dominic Calvert-Lewin wasn’t a penalty. I’m quite happy to announce myself as being bitter, twisted and proud (for just over 32 years to be exact) but blue the levels of bitterness seem to have been gazumped by a legion of former Liverpool players who just can’t or refuse to see what’s in front of them. Even Jonjo Shelvey’s sending off in injury time in our victory over Newcastle was deemed worthy of some added bitterness by Danny Murphy who criticised Gana for rolling over when he was fouled and that ex red Shelvey should not have been sent off.
Monday night football is my least favourite night for watching football, particularly as i’ve started enjoying the weekends again but at least we are now in the top half of the table. When results are poor though, the prospect of Monday night football at least preserved my weekend, now i’m frustrated again and miss football at the weekend. I’m even looking forward to the Chelsea game next week. Who would have thought? Sam has given us our dignity back, some hope and promise for the rest of the season and my weekends back. What the future holds is anyones guess but for now we’re heading in the right direction.
Just a few additional thoughts… A year ago I didn’t want Wayne Rooney back at Everton, purely because I thought he was ‘past it’. When he signed in the summer I changed m mind and was happy to see his return. A year on and he’s scored the same amount of league goals as a certain Belgian whose name I can’t place. Having missed the last penalty he took for us, the equaliser at Anfield took some bottle. Welcome back Wayne.
Maybe i’m being over sentimental but I wanted to vote for Jermain Defoe as BBC sports personality of the year but inexplicably he isn’t on the shortlist so I can’t. His heartwarming relationship with Bradley Lowery was touching and showed the human side of the modern footballer. I like many, now keep an eye out for Sunderland’s results and i’m glad they have now climbed out of the bottom three. RIP Bradley.
Finally, just a mention for the great gesture by Seamus Coleman when he paid £2,000 to bring over two Irish fans for the West Ham game, when their previous effort to attend a game was thwarted by illness. A great bloke as well as a great player, I cant wait to see him back and hope he will return to the first team as good as he was before the injury. http://www.irishmirror.ie/sport/soccer/soccer-news/samus-coleman-republic-ireland-everton-11687139?service=responsive.
Onwards and upwards!