It's official. The Devil is an RS fan. So is God, and just about any other deity you care to name, follow, or vaguely know about. If, like me, you're not a follower of anything like that, then Lady Luck is on their side too. Unbelievably, still.
Is that me being bitter? Probably. Do I care? No.
I found it intriguing how many RS supporters I read and heard were "not arsed" about beating Everton before the game, but it certainly didn't look that way in the 96th minute when a German Manager took his over-used and over-capacity mouth, with more teeth than a Spinner Dolphin (252 since you're asking) galloping across the pitch in a way only David Pleat or Bob Stokoe could understand (except they did it at the final whistle). The only surprise was that Duncan Ferguson didn't 'remind him' about decorum even in highly charged emotional situations. The reality is that the RS actually thought we had a chance this time, not just because record runs have to end some time, but because Everton Football Club is a different beast to the one that turned up thinking they had no chance, and then proceeded to prove it by their actions on the pitch in recent history (recent, as in the last about 20 years). And there for all to see yesterday, the tide was definitely shown to be turning, no doubt about it.
When the dust had settled this morning, the tears had dried, and I'd tried to get a decent night's sleep by focusing on what was good about yesterday rather than what was crushingly unkind, I came to a conclusion. Everton are playing some really good stuff at the moment. It is rare that you get a chance to assess yourself against the teams above you (or just beneath you) in a concentrated spell of away games, and with two more to come this month this opportunity intensifies rather than dries up, but we can look at performances rather than results and be proud. Given the Shambolic Big Sham period (not even long enough to call it an 'era') in this same calendar year, that is some achievement.
I know, I know, 'proud' doesn't give you points, nor does 'achievement', but we have to keep reminding ourselves that the Brands/Silva era (and it will be) has only just begun and most of us have said that a Top 10 finish would be an achievement if the direction of travel was good. The reality is that the direction of travel is very good, and the traction is earlier than expected, so a Top 6 finish is a distinct possibility. And maybe better, so defeat yesterday, and the manner of it, only served to crush we 'plucky Evertonians' that bit more. We need to score the numerous chances we've had against those around us, and maybe that's a striker, maybe it's a bit more composure, maybe it's the rub of the green. Whichever it is, or all 3, it'll come.
Anyway, Andre Gomes.
I've put a picture of Lookman up because I'm bu**ered if I'm going to put anything up relating to the goal (no, it's not 'buttered'). I don't want to have to look at that again, although the reality is that that freakshow will be replayed and replayed long after I've shuffled off this mortal coil, and probably anyone who's bothering to read this and put themselves through yet more pain. And also because I thought Lookman looked really good yesterday, not fazed by the occasion, and didn't try too much or too hard, which can sometimes be his undoing. Walcott needs a blow, swap them round on Wednesday, assuming Walcott is even fit. If Silva decides Wee Bernie needs a rest too (he looked bu**ered when he was finally subbed (no, still not buttered, although he was rather sweaty....), then I could see a front 3 of Richarlison, Tosun and Lookman, with the wide boys happily switching flanks willy nilly to confuse the oppo.
Gomes was more than half decent though.
What I would say about the goal, or rather it's aftermath, is how Pickford was not left hanging out to dry:
The guys on the right are the guys consoling their 'keeper who's made a rix. The guys on the left represent the guys that left their 'keeper as the loneliest man on the pitch after his rix(es) in Kiev last May. You can decide where the class is. Only Allison, that I saw on the TV, and I'll stand corrected if needed, of the opposition made any consoling gesture to England's No 1.
He was that before, and he still is. Painful as it will still be for him, and the Newcastle fans will not let him forget it (after his gesturing last season to them), it will improve him. Pickford is young and exceptionally talented. In most professions, the young and talented are prone to making some hideous cock-ups as they learn experience the hard way. In business, there's often a wise older head who may not have the dynamism and energy of their youthful colleague, but they can pass on experience to help avoid or mitigate the big mistakes. As a 'keeper, you're on your own.
Only Jordan will know what he was thinking, and let's face it, he had too long to think, and he won't do that again. Pickford showed earlier this season that he can get a bit ahead of himself, a bit over-confident, and once he'd settled back in to a routine of doing the basics well, and the exceptional when he needed to, his form was immaculate. Yesterday started poorly, trying too hard to show he wasn't fazed, and ended calamitously, but what's happened has happened. Move on. Grin and Bear the repeats until we've got something better for them to show. Read Big Nev's twitter feed to understand what that wise enormous head thinks. And Pickford will continue to save pens, save acrobatically, and use his apparently tiny arms to keep the Everton net protected.
Anyway, back to Andre Gomes. Something tells me that he won't come to Everton as he knows he's a Champion's League player, so let's get the best from him whilst we can, and then hope Marcel can weave his magic, and Marco can continue to whisper sweet Portuguese nothings in his ears. What a player. By a country mile the best player on the pitch, although grudgingly I'd give Dick Van Dyke a close second, and Lucas Digne (it's Digne as in Dean, Sky Commentators, not Digne as in Dean-yer, and it's Lucas as in Luca whilst we're at it) another sound close 3rd. For Everton, which is all I really care about, Mina and Keane looked strong again, Seamus was good defensively getting himself between man and ball on many occasions, Idrissa gave the ball away far too often, Sig ok but not stunning, and a bit of a misfiring front 3 that, as earlier, needs a refresh this week against the Bar Codes and the Hornets.
We played well enough yesterday, but we're desperate for a striker as not really threatening enough. I can't see Bernard or Walcott keeping their place now, as despite Silva's faith in them, he really has to bite the bullet and try something new up front. Pickford messed up, but one of those things. We deserved the draw, even if not necessarily the win, but not that bothered that we lost given we are looking a strong side again.
Gomes has done really well, but he's only played 6 games, and it will be interesting to see if he's just in great form, or if he can sustain it for the full season, as he's been better than I expected.
I'd like to see Lookman get a full game now, and maybe DCL too with Richarlison going back out wide.