Posts Tagged ‘football’

There’s nobody better

January 26, 2010

WHTB had a neat little plan in mind for this post, concerning the return of Everton’s dashing Basque genius Mikel Arteta, back in the squad after an eleven-month absence following a ruptured cruciate ligament. Unfortunately, he’s developed a groin strain,likely to rule him out of tomorrow’s game against Sunderland, which scuppers the excitement a little. But anyway, it would have gone something like this:

Mikel Arteta is one of the most talented performers that this generation of Evertonians is ever likely to see in the hallowed blue shirt. There can be no doubt about that. His remarkable ability to draw fouls, and subsequent advantages, from opponents by simply playing mind-boggling keep-ball is a joy to behold, as are the numerous flicks and tricks he has displayed over the years.

With Marouane Fellaini finally beginning to resemble the player we all hoped he might be, and this season’s talisman Steven Pienaar demonstrating exactly why he’s South Africa’s star man, Blues can be forgiven for daring to dream of a midfield capable of living up to the ‘school of science’ nickname that our team was tagged with in the late 1920s.

WHTB loved the tough-tackling style of Joe Royle’s ‘dogs of war’ side in the mid-90s, but that’s simply because that was the side WHTB grew up with, and hey, you can’t choose your times. In any case, for all the heart-on-sleeve moments provided by Barry Horne, Joe Parkinson and John Ebbrell, it was always the flair outlets of Andrei Kanchelskis and Anders Limpar that captured imaginations. The dogs of war were about pride and a never-say-die attitude, but the handful of creative players who complemented them were the stuff we dream of seeing at Goodison. Arteta is a part of that tradition, and more besides.

So we rubbed our eyes in disbelief when we read that he was due to start on the bench on Saturday’s dismal FA Cup defeat to Birmingham – the man had spent so long out of action that his ability had acquired near-mythic qualities in the fingers of messageboard nostalgists (as had his injuries in the typings of messageboard cynics). When he came off the bench, we joined the crowd in standing up to cheer. To see him on the pitch would have enough, but he displayed sufficient verve to indicate he’ll be the same player once he regains some fitness.

The night before last season’s visit of Hull City, a dream depicted Mikel as WHTB’s best friend. It was obviusly a silly dream, although fun, and most of the actual events therein evaporated from memory upon waking. However, your humble blogger awoke convinced that something special would happen that day. Sure enough, the marvellous midfield maestro scored a sumptuous free-kick that proved to be the icing on the cake of a 2-0 victory – the sort of goal that lingers in the mind long after the events of the season have faded.

Here’s to many more moments like that – great to have you back, Mickey.

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