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Do Not Boo This Team.
by Ed Bottomley

Pele was woeful, Alex Young was worse, and Silva will get Everton relegated

Death. Taxes. Losing to Arsenal at their place.

I’ve been to see the Arsenal a few times. For a few years a friend and his family tried to turn me into one. It didn’t work. Most of the matches against Everton weren’t fun at all. They always seemed to score with aching inevitability. Usually the goals came with the same name: Ian Wright. Occasionally, like when Stefan Schwarz scored at Goodison, even our players saw how futile it was. I remember Neville Southall gamely diving as as Schwarz’s piledriver whistled by. Even now when Arsenal score, I feel the same. Lacazette’s screamer – curled into the top corner – also seemed inevitable. And then seconds later, a goal that could be used as an instructional video on the offside rule, what could we have done about that?

Lots of our fans, rightly, don’t do well with inevitable futility. It reminds us of knives to gunfights. White flags limply waving at Highbury/The Emirates, Old Trafford, even Stamford Bridge don’t fill us with pride. But yesterday was different. We went toe-to-toe with Arsenal for long stretches of the game. We could and should have scored before they did. Their goalie was Man of the Match(!)… Yes, we lost, but I don’t see the reason for unnecessary negativity, and I don’t think we can have a go at Marco Silva for achieving pretty much exactly the same result as his predecessors did when playing Arsenal away.

Yes, football *is* a results business, but we don’t just gape in front of Ceefax to see results. We view results in context. Take a brand new manager, a tonne of new players, and equally large amount of injuries, some cloven hoof Allardyce long ballery which needs to be coached out of the players, AND sprinkle in some rancid (or at the very least questionable) refereeing decisions – and you have enough evidence to wipe the brine from your frothy mouths, becalm your jerking knees, and step down from the ledge. Take that sandwich board off and stop screaming on the street corner. The end isn’t nigh. And Marco isn’t going anywhere…

Fan 1: What about last season?
Fan 2: What about it?
Fan 1: They were rubbish. They were f***ing rubbish.
Fan 2: They weren’t that bad.
Fan 1: They were f***ing rubbish last year. And they were f***ing rubbish the year before. And I don’t care if they are top of the League, they’ll be f***ing rubbish this year, too. And next year. And the year after that. I’m not joking.
Fan 2: I don’t know why you come, Frank. Honest I don’t.
Fan 1: Well, you live in hope, don’t you?

The above exchange involves two Arsenal fans in “Fever Pitch”, and it could be any club. Whatever the team, there are always criticisms swarming around, often ridiculously exaggerated, like the hilarious Fantasy Football League sketch – “Pele was Sh*te” that portrayed him as a bumbling goon with two left feet, with Frank Skinner laughing “And his real name was Edson Arantes do Excremento”…

Both love and luck are blind. Against West Ham, we were taken to the cleaners by a team that previously was sitting on nil points… Losing to them – especially with a Yarmolenko brace (you just *knew* he’d ruddy score) had already riled up some fans before yesterday’s defeat. Some tweet wildly in a palsy of hatred – blaming the blameless, shrugging off reason, myopic in their anger, and a few weirdos are even calling for Big Sam’s return…

This proves that it wasn’t Sam Allardyce’s fault – it was the players!!!

For them, the injuries are “no excuse” – neither are unlucky goals or dodgy red cards. Despite watching every second of every game this season, some have boiled it down to “We’ve only managed to get six points against Wolves, Southampton, Bournemouth, Huddersfield, and West Ham” – which doesn’t tell the full story at all. Before yesterday, we had played with 10 men for over half of the game in our 2 away matches.

This season getting points has been like panning for gold in the Mersey, putting in huge amounts of effort for little reward. A point at Molineux, one at Bournemouth, none at the Emirates, when we could have had 6 or 7 points from these games.

When people pull on the anonymous balaclava and spray sawn off shotgun tweets they are protected and emboldened – but everyone gets  peppered by the negativity. With Everton there is a specific type  – the one who thinks that Bill Kenwright is a machiavellian genius in an M&S leather jacket , turning his nose up at a hailstorm of billionaire bidders and throwing phantom bids at players, chuckling while he trousers the fabled Arteta Money… Until of course, he accepts a billionaire’s offer, but even then BK is the bad guy, the one doing his very best to drive us into the ground. And what about the blues on the pitch? Tom Davies, who just turned 20 this summer, seems to get most of the phlegm flecked abuse, having taken over from Ross Barkley in the role of Great White Nope…

Was it always like this?

A look back through history shows that even Alex Young, the sainted vicar’s collar striker of the sixties, wasn’t liked by all. Did time bleach out the spots in his game, and flatten out the creases in his ability, or was Alex Young overrated?

“Alex has had a few critics during his time at Goodison – but there are fans who swear he is the best centre-forward in the country.” An entry in an Everton programme – 1964

Can those that boo our blues even be described as “fans” or “supporters”? In what way do their moans exhibit any kind of support? At the core of being a fan is a loyalty to the club, it may be temporarily frozen if there is mismanagement or the players abuse their positions, but without that support, what is left? Surely the base level “job description” of being a supporter, the minimum requirement, is supporting your club. If you don’t, if you insist on booing because “I paid my money and you can’t tell me how to behave” even during times of relative prosperity like now, then are you even a fan? Do you fit the definition of “supporter”? Or are you just a moaner who needs to get out of the house on Saturday afternoons?… Picture a comedian without comedy, a librarian who cannot read, a boxer who cannot punch. A surgeon who doesn’t do surgeries, a bin man who never picks up rubbish…

Picture a supporter who doesn’t support .

As whinge follows moan online and in the stands – the moaners are eroding the confidence of the fans and the players too. These are seasoned abusers. To those who pepper their moans over websites like particularly chronic dandruff; and the vocal few who seem far more comfortable booing young Scousers and bemoaning our terrible start, you should be ashamed. We’ll get better, and we’ll get results. I promise. 

Written by Ed Bottomley

Everton fan exiled in Michigan. Duncan Ferguson obsessive, history buff, optimist. Follow me on Twitter @Dixies60

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