Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Everton To Make The Champions League Cut This Season – A Lot Depends On This One Man

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Jon Depp (JD)
Eccentric writer, effervescent blagger. What he lacks in cheekbones, he makes up by being cheeky. The footballing Jack Sparrow pompously navigating the high-waves of journalism.2015 International Football Blogging Award Finalist, the pin-up boy of The 4th Official.

Always in the shadows of their well-off neighbours, the self-anointed ‘People’s Club’ haven’t really made their people too happy with the mid-table doldrums for as long as the memory serves. Often, I think about the universality of everything, and how the rules don’t quite apply to football. They say, in a course of time long enough, everything evens itself out. If that were the case, on the premise of that rule of thumb, Everton should have appeared more often in the Champions League – which has been a grand total of 10 times in their staggering 138-year-old history.

There is not much to speak of these days as a fan – while the Toffees still maintain a loyal, incorruptible fan base spanning from the days, where a designated Toffee Lady used to prowl the perimeter of the pitch, peppering the crowd with free Everton-branded mints supplied from Mother Noblett’s – a PR exercise that stood them in good stead. Gone are the days that they were known as The Dogs of War, following their knife-between-their-teeth FA Cup winning campaign of 1995. Nor are they called ‘The School of Science’ anymore, following Steve Bloomer labelling their eye-catching brand of attacking football, ‘scientific’, in 1928. They don’t have much to look back to in the recent past, but as things stand, they might just, in a not too distant future.

In Romelu Lukaku they have a spearhead, who while just aged 23, is already the most fearsomely productive strikers in the league. 61 goals and 22 assists in just 128 matches, with a goal-per-game ratio of 0.47, Romelu further underpins his quality in the European stage by racking up 17 goals in 51 showings representing his country, Belgium. A further breakdown of his stats highlights an uncanny consistency level at such a young age – 25 goals and 7 assists in 46 appearances in 2015-16; 20 goals and 7 assists in 48 appearances in 2014-15; and finally, 16 goals and 8 assists in 2013-14 season even when he was used sparingly, in his debut season for the Merseyside club.

Romelu Lukaku isn’t taken as seriously in the Premier League as he probably should, partly down to the fact of the club he’s turning out for, more accurately the typecasting owing to the kind of managers who used him as an extension of their philosophies – which despite having holes all over, didn’t faze nor deter Lukaku’s single-minded will to perform and win in spite of all tactical odds.

Up till now, you have been lulled into the belief that this article’s protagonist is Romelu Lukaku. Partly, is, but serves more as the accessory to the theme of the article. The Belgian wonderkid’s virtues have attracted the interest of Chelsea’s Antonio Conte – a man who relishes a proper powerhouse of a centre-forward as the focal point in his 3-5-2. Now, while it may appear to be a logical step-up, Romelu should be reminded of the underbelly that Chelsea’s excess tugs along – the stockpiling.

On the wayside of Jose Mourinho’s contemptible player politics, he found himself exiled from his dream club, Big Rom and dumped over at Everton. The club has nurtured his talent and afforded him the patience and the endearment that made him the player he is today.

If there’s one man who can change the course of the Blues’ season, it’s Ronald Koeman. Finally, Everton can draw upon the continental class that has long snubbed them. A man schooled at two of the greatest footballing establishments on the planet, in Ajax and Barcelona, has a long-standing reputation in Europe as one of the finest facilitators of talent, most notably in his stints at PSV and Feyenoord. With Koeman’s nous, Everton can make, who is as mentioned, one of the most productive strikers in the league, to the league’s most feared one – the Toffees’ talisman, a complete warhead – that could bomb defences at will, and propel Everton into the heady lights of the Champions League. It’s all in Ronald Koeman’s hands now. This article’s on him. This year could be Everton’s year.

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