Opposition Q & A
After that great win against Leicester last week and a decent display against Manchester United West Ham go into the last match of an ultimately disappointing season without the pressure of needing to get points to ensure our survival against an Everton team led by Big Sam Allardyce who we know would have savoured trying to send us down. So with a big sigh of relief I spoke to my old mate, food blogger, and occasional Guardian commentator, and mad Evertonian Jim Coke aka The Disabled Chef about the game coming up and the season in general.
Hi Jim, we meet up for the last game of the season for a game that has less importance attached to it than it looked it might have a few weeks ago. The last time we spoke you were frightful that Everton might appoint Big Sam as your manager: how have you rated him since he arrived at Goodison? And are you hoping that he will see out his 4 year contract?
Yes it would’ve have certainly made the game more interesting if you and 58,000 others were all squirming in their seats. However as they say it is now a dead rubber but I’m hoping there will still be a bit of action specially if Mark Noble does his Tasmanian devil bit like he did on Thursday night with Pogba. As for my fears about Fat Sam – well they appear to have been vindicated. Okay on the form guide he’s done the job. He was brought in To keep us up which he has achieved and our current form Is good and would see us in the top six But honestly I’d be better off watching paint dry. The team appears to lack motivation and coordination and just don’t seem to play for each other, offering little on the pitch. Subsequently it’s been a really disappointing season. If we’d offered Sam four years then I’m sure the blue half of Merseyside would have gone through a similar period of self flagellation! Thank the heavens him and his sidekick, Little Sam will be gone by next week . It will allow the darkness to lift.
You also came across as quite a fan of David Moyes, therefore you can’t be surprised he has managed to secure our place in the Premier League next year?
Considering he picked up some dodgy reins, what I thought was an ageing squad and a club that appears at times to have been at war with itself, I reckon he has done an inspiring job. I’m really pleased for him as he has definitely struggled since he left his true love. His signing and pampering of Marco Arnautovic was inspirational and probably was the catalyst for keeping you up, bit like when we secured the services of Super Kevin Campbell who did the same job many moons ago, and he should be applauded for that alone. I hope in the near future the Olympic Stadium will be bouncing to the tune of David Moyes Claret and blue army but I understand you Irons are a bit picky about according your managers that accolade.
Super is stretching it a bit! Anyway how would you sum up your season? What have been the highlights and the lowlights?
To be honest the season has been a nightmare. We started with such high aspirations and a bunch of players we believed would take us to them stars, but we’ve hardly got out of first gear. Normally with a season there is something to cheer you up but this one has been barren. Obviously I enjoyed tonking you boys 4-0, Rooney’s goal was a peach, but The score did not reflect the game. I also went apeshit when Sigurdsson slid home the equaliser in the cup against the neighbours, but that was about it. My season was summed up best when the Disabled liaison officer at Everton persuaded me to buy a ticket for Arsenal away. I’ve never seen us beat them on 15 occasions: I warned him I’d be a Jonah for the cause, but he was insistent saying I had to break the chain: I left at half time when we were 4 nil down!
Which players do you think/hope will be cleared out by Big Sam or whomever you might appoint next season?
It’s difficult to know as Everton don’t seem to know their arse from their elbow! Accordingly Rooney has had enough and is off to DC United and many others may follow him out of the door. Personally I don’t think we rotated the squad enough. Lookman for example Is a fantastic talent, but we loaned him out and many other players have hardly had a look in. This must affect their form and willingness to play for the club. We need to build a structure have a sense of purpose and mould the players around that. Most important thing to remember is that no player is bigger than the club.
Any players that have had a good season, and you would be disappointed to see leave?
It’s difficult to pick out anyone. Pickford won all the end of season awards however the more the season progressed I felt his ability to deal with crosses and command his area became very poor. For that reason I wouldn’t have him as England’s first choice for World Cup. Jags has been a stalwart as ever and it was great to see Seamus Coleman return from his leg break but I’d be struggling to pick a five aside team from what I have seen. A lot of it is obviously about confidence and winning consistently. If we can get that sorted then hopefully next season I will be eulogising how brilliant our current crop of players are.
Most of the crucial positions in the table have been sorted, but I expect that you will be hoping that Liverpool can clinch that last Champions League slot and go on to win the Champions League for the pride of the city?
One of my biggest regrets in life is that I paid sympathy to Liverpool when they were 3-0 down in Istanbul that night. I hope Brighton muller them on Sunday but they won’t, but come the final I’ll be cooking tapas, paella and immersing myself into supporting Real Madrid. I’ve got a horrible feeling it could all go a bit Pete Tong though – and that’s not the cooking!
Any surprises in the teams being relegated?
It was a great achievement for all the promoted teams avoiding the drop and that was a surprise as I saw Brighton and Huddersfield as dead certs. Sadly the Baggies have had that sinking feeling for a couple of seasons now so there demise has an inevitability about it. As for Stoke selling Arnautovic to West Ham, that was suicide. They have never lit my fire over their tenure in the prem, so I won’t be missing them. Swansea have been poor for most of the season spending much of it on life support. Saints did them a favour putting them out of their misery.
What are your hopes for next season in terms of players?
We seem to be linked to most players because of our shed loads of cash but after last season’s shopping – I’m going to take the summer off and just hope for the best. On saying that we probably need a striker to bag us 20 goals and a nippy defender. We then have to sell them the golden vision and pay them a fortune so we’ll probably end up with a few cast offs from the relegated bunch if we get lucky!
Are there any West Ham players you would snap up if the chance came up?
Marco would be perfect for Everton. He is a big number 9 And when on his game is unplayable. He skinned Smalling on Thursday night and is a bit of a bully boy. He reminds me of Big Dunc and the great Bob Latchford who scored that wonderful equaliser at Elland Rd before Lampard Senior burst our bubble. I also like Cresswell who I think has had a great season and has a brilliant left peg. He’s a Scouser born on the wrong side of the tracks though, I so it’s unlikely he’d consider such a move.
Yes I remember Lampard scoring in that game, and his celebration after, but nothing about Bob Latchford funny enough. It’s amazing how many ex-Everton players get given the great and super epithets though. How do you expect the current Everton team to line up at the weekend?
Like we have all season: something quite uninspiring. Rooney will definitely be in for his last game with the club and I expect him to play behind Tosun who has potential. Sam won’t want to lose so expect the following 4-5-1 : Picks, Seamus, Bainsey, Jags, Keeno, Idris, Morgs, Theo, Yannick, Rooney, Cenk
I actually think that Rooney is injured. You must be hoping that Mark Noble isn’t wearing his shooting boots this Sunday. Are you confident that Big Sam can get one over his former employees? Prediction for score?
Sam will be desperate for a result especially as it could be his last game. I actually expect the game will be quite entertaining with a few goals unlike the spectacular nil all draw we endured last season. Noble and his shooting boots don’t scare me as he should be still exhausted after all his shenanigans on Thursday. He shouldn’t be playing as by the letter of the law, he should have been sent off. but he’s also one from the dark side and would love to stick one over us so I wouldn’t count him out not having an influence. However it’ll be 2-2 with Rooney scoring a pen and kissing the badge like there is no tomorrow.
Well it looks like Big Sam has deadened the appetite for football up on Merseyside – I know that feeling. Many thanks to Jim for his time, I must agree that Nobes was lucky not to be sent off, but I cannot agree with his prediction for the score: Moyes will be wanting to prove to West Ham and Everton alike that he is a ‘top six manager’, so I expect us to come out firing on all cylinders and am going for a 3 -1 victory. Come on You Irons!