“If he likes to play football then he needs to leave Everton” – Ronald Koeman, 18th August 2016.
How ironic then that it was him who ended up saving Koeman’s arse on Saturday. We’re talking of course about that Senegalese prince Oumar Niasse who turned what was heading for yet another pile of underwhelming crap into a much needed win over Bournemouth. Let’s be honest, his rescue act did paper over several cracks, but it might just be the catalyst to kick start our season.
Although publicly he made his happiness for Niasse known and claimed that he was indeed given a locker and wasn’t exiled in any way (if you say so Ronnie), it must inwardly be killing him. RonKo is a proud man, would he basically want to admit that despite all the signings we made we look more disjointed than Steve Bruce’s nose and someone who technically shouldn’t even be here anymore had to bail him out? Of course not.
So following the win over Sunderland in the League Cup Koeman decided to revert back to type and remove all of the pace that made us look so threatening going forward. So yes we were back to shoehorning 3 number 10s into one midfield and of course playing Cuco Martina, who presumably is still blackmailing Ron with whatever it is he has on him. After another slow and disjointed first half performance Bournemouth took the lead through Josh King. Pacey and hard working, don’t be surprised if we’re heavily linked in January. Minutes later it could’ve been 2 as Defoe was sent on his way after another sloppy mistake. His effort was saved brilliantly by Pickford. Whilst there’s no doubting that Niasse won us the match, it was Pickford that kept us in it at that point in the game because the way we’d been playing up until then with them on top, it would’ve been game over for sure.
With heads falling off everywhere, (not quite Bobby M levels but getting close) on came Prince Oumar and the Ketwig Kaiser. Could they bring their telepathic under 23s understanding to the Premier League? The answer, a massive yes. Davies’ inch perfect through ball in the 77th minute put Niasse in to put it away emphatically. Scenes. As well as Mr T. Davies of West Derby’s assist see also Big Dunc’s celebration. Boss. Shortly after that Howe took King off and replaced him with Steve Cook. At that moment I thought that the tide had turned. He bottled it, no doubt about it. 5 minutes later Kenny was away down the right, again someone who should’ve started. He whipped it in to find Calvert-Lewin who laid it on to Davies. His shot took a massive deflection towards Niasse. He flung himself at it. Eventually at the second attempt he stabbed it in. Cue absolute scenes everywhere as the Street End just fell in. Someone ought to check if it’s still standing. 3 goals in 59 minutes of footy. Mad that. Romelu who? Whokaku.. Oh alright, I’m sorry. I’ll pack in now.
For some reason though he isn’t in the Europa squad so he won’t feature until the end of the group phase. I don’t understand that because the competition would’ve been the perfect opportunity for Koeman to give him a full 90 minutes instead of mini cameos. Following that battering by Atalanta in the first game, we head into the match against Apollon bottom of the group. Regarding team selection it wouldn’t surprise me if Stekelenburg is recalled in order to save Pickford for Burnley on Sunday. I also expect to see the likes of Vlasic and Lookman feature at some point. I hope we do because they’re going to park the bus in all likelihood so if he fills the side full of pace I think we’ll be lot more threatening going forward and open them up a lot more. If he doesn’t and sticks with his usual selections it might be more of a struggle to break them down than anticipated.
So who are Apollon then? Well, last season they finished 3rd in the Cypriot First Division and won the Cup against APOEL. Not bad. Mind you we’re probably talking about pub league standard here. They got to this stage in the Europa by beating a team called Balti. I bet they made hard wok of that… (if you don’t get it a balti is served in a type of wok) They also knocked out Aberdeen and Midtjylland. Looking at their squad the only name I recognise from it is Valentin Roberge who had a brief spell at Sunderland for a bit. There’s a fella called Alistair Reynolds in there too. Now whether he’s an unheard of Scottish gem who lost his way or just some random bloke who went to Cyprus for a stag do, got pissed and ended up playing footy for them I don’t know. Incidentally I had no idea that Matt Derbyshire played in Cyprus. He’s scored 28 goals in 38 games for Omonia Nicosia. So there you are, your totally irrelevant fact of the day for you. Totally off topic, Apollon’s Steve Walsh equivalent has a weird name. Socratis Socratous. It sounds a bit like something Harry Potter would shout if he got pissed off about losing a sock. The weird nerd. The Cypriot answer to Neville Neville also works for them too it seems in the fitness department. Ioakim Ioakim. Still it could be worse, you could the assistant manager who’s called Periclis. Sounds like an illness.
Their late draw against Lyon shows they definitely aren’t pushovers but let’s be honest here we should be beating these comfortably. In before you think “but this is Everton” etc. Somehow fail to win and we’re back to square one. Batter them and Ronnie K is boss again. Got to love footy don’t you? Up the Toffees.