Part II – Drenthe
“We are going to Newcastle to win because we are boys with big balls.” – Drenthe before our game at St James’ Park earlier this season. We lost 2-1.
We’ve had a look at Everton’s first Royston, now for the second…
Fast forward to 2011. Past the misunderstood 70’s, over the brilliant 80’s, under the depressing 90’s, and through the hard working 00’s. Our wallet is empty, Mikel Arteta is about to leave for Arsenal, and it’s Transfer Deadline Day, traditionally a rancid time for blues. Moyes brings in Royston Drenthe. He’s a winger. We know all about Dutch wide boys. He’s described as “so disorganised he probably keeps his shoes in the freezer.” Many of us are unimpressed.
This season our team has often resembled a gaggle of drowsy Sunday drivers, complete with dodgy gear changes that sound like rusty coughs, and Radio 4 gently wafting through their car radios like a July breeze. Our recent game away to Wigan was an ode to tectonic movement. Royston is exciting and dangerous, he’s James Dean in a Porsche Spyder, hurtling towards doom but doing it in style.
“With my wife, you mean?” – Drenthe answering the question “how often do you have sex?”
A squall of excitement falls on Goodison when Royston comes on, usually accompanied by a wave of groans. No one really knows what he’s about to do. He could cuff the ball around the ears from miles out and score, he could take 4 players on at once, or he could stumble over his own bootlaces. His short 15 minute appearance at the end of our 2-0 win over Chelsea was perhaps the rarest sight of all. Royston actually played sensibly, and ran diligently, with no obvious madness and a fair amount of discipline – which I almost found a little disappointing. He’s the exasperating schoolboy who can one moment write sublime poetry, and then the next scrunch up the paper he’s written it on and toss it at the teacher’s head.
When Royston talks about his childhood he mentions a moment where he “had to choose” between his two passions, skating and football. It’s obvious why he liked both, he likes a trick does Royston Ricky, be it on a half pipe or shimmying towards goal and his use of the ball is relatively unique at Goodison these days. It wasn’t too long ago that we had a homegrown player whose formative footballing years were made bouncing balls off brick and pavement, and Drenthe possesses a similar ability, he can move and get in positions that are alien to many. Sometimes it doesn’t work though. Royston Ricky can be the complacent Bond villain caught monologuing too long, or the extravagant swordsman swishing and slashing to his heart’s content, stopped dead by a lapidary Indiana Jones gunshot. Drenthe often seems to get over excited, hyperventilating and losing the ball easily or – almost as bad – engaging in diarrhea of the feet, trying to dribble and dribble and dribble, over-seasoning his runs with stepovers galore. Either way, a man as infused with adrenalin and prone to stomach ulcers as Royston is, is the last person who should be guzzling Red Bull.
When we were weepy about Arteta, Royston swaggered in and some hardly noticed. We all went to YouTube to see the swish swish swish of his dreadlocks and the swoosh swoosh swoosh of his Nikes. We also saw a Kung Fu kick that puts Nigel de Jong’s to shame, Johnny Heitinga ripping him down for the most blatant penalty in history, and a smattering of cringe-worthy rap videos. Consistently inconsistent, if you look carefully enough you can see a straitjacket under Royston’s Everton shirt.
This is the man who described his time at Feyenoord as “beautiful” but threatened them with legal action if they didn’t let him go to Real Madrid. The man who was a disaster at Real, slipping, sliding, and shinning balls wide, even driving into a police car at the behest of his HAL style SatNav. Madridistas called him “Accidrenthe.” Royston Ricky had a rough time on loan at Hércules too, unfairly mauled by fans and eventually hounded out of town – president Valentín Botella claimed that the team had been relegated because of our Royston. And here he is. At Everton, under a manager with a track record of clipping the wings of his wide men, and valuing heart (which RR has) and discipline (which he is perhaps lacking) above all else. In “Deconstructing Drenthe”, an excellent piece on The Executioner’s Bong site, the case is made for Drenthe and his qualities that cannot be taught vs the weak elements of his game that can be worked on. Although we are statistically shakier defensively with him in the side, we possess more attacking intent too. With Landon Donovan’s imminent departure, Royston would be perfect on the right side of midfield, where he seems less inclined to go off the rails.
Remarkably, Royston came on against Fulham in the FA Cup, refused to obey a direct Moyes order, and is still an Everton player…
Several saw Drenthe ignore instruction to tuck inside. Also apparently ignored John Heitinga’s plea in Dutch.
— Greg O’Keeffe (@GregOK) January 28, 2012
Perhaps Davey Moyes is mellowing in his old age, turning from the sharpest of Scottish cheddars into a soft squidgy Babybel, or possibly he recognizes that despite Royston’s numerous faults he brings things to our team that few can. As for Royston Ricky’s discipline, or lack thereof – there is a glimmer of hope in that regard. The night after he turned his nose up at a Moyes order barked from the Goodison touchline, he followed the Followtonians’ blue-blooded Ped McPartland just fine…
Ha ha Drenthe just asks me for directions to Hilton he is now following me to it
— Peter Mcpartland (@PED7) January 28, 2012
Royston plays football like kids play videogames, getting so excited he rips the controller out of it’s socket, other times hes an irritable button basher, occasionally he’s inspired, bamboozling pixels and players alike. 50 years ago we had a troublesome Royston, but he eventually won us the title. 46 years ago we had a madcap Brazilian pirouetting on our turf. Goodison suits Royston, and I think he suits us. I hope Moyes keeps Royston Ricky Drenthe, and I’d love him to score against Liverpool…again.
How about you?