Yes, I know 8 is a bit of a weird number but the numbers after it don’t work on my keyboard/I ran out of observations/8 is my lucky number (pick the one which makes you happiest and then read on).
1) A suave, well dressed manager called Roberto gets his side playing some attractive football going forward but sees them looking vulnerable at the back. For Di Matteo 12 months ago, see Martinez this time around. It was clear from their opening 90 minutes that the Everton players are taking his style of football on well, but there were defensive lapses their fans won’t be used to. Martinez has better players than he did at Wigan, but his gungho nature could see them finish lower than they did last season. They’ll definitely be exciting to watch though.
2) If I had a pound for every time a pundit or journalist called Jose Mourinho “refreshing” or “a breath of fresh air” during his first season at Chelsea… well, I wouldn’t exactly be able to dine in the same restaurants him and Roman do, but I’d still be pretty well off. 9 years later, nothing has changed other than the fawning over him growing even larger. It almost makes you want Harry Redknapp back. Almost.
3) Gylfi Sigurdsson may secretly be hoping Gareth Bale leaves Tottenham. On Sunday he was able to play in a more central position, and although he’s nowhere near as explosive or prolific as Bale, he is much more technical and subtle. With Clint Dempsey already sold and AVB not a fan of playing 2 centre forwards, Sigurdsson could have a big season ahead. It could be a stretch, but if he plays well enough and Bale stays, maybe the Welshman will have to revert to a more traditional wide role.
4) David Moyes understandably packed his side with experience for the first game of the season and it worked a treat. The team and most of the experienced players put on excellent performances. Ryan Giggs wasn’t one of them though, putting in the type of performance we’ve seen a fair few times in the last 2 years. Sloppy, lazy, with a few moments of magic in between. At least Moyes was happy to sub him after an hour, which Sir Alex never seemed to do – but considering he started the Community Shield as well, he seems to have a more important role in the first XI than people assumed. Legend status aside, you wonder whether that could backfire, especially with the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool coming up.
5) Ross Barkley is someone who was making waves at youth level for a while. Quick, strong and technically superb, he’s arguably the best talent Everton have produced since Wayne Rooney. At the other end of the age scale is Joe Cole, who I’ve always had a soft spot for, and who probably would have been used better if he was born in another country. Both started the season with bright performances and a goal – if (and it’s a big if) England make it to the World Cup, they’ll need as many door openers as possible and these two offer that. We’ll probably end up taking grafters like Parker, Milner and Carroll though…
6) Aston Villa are fighting Swansea to be everyone’s second team. A young, vibrant team with the ability to upset the big boys. A centre forward who can probably cause problems for any defence in Europe. And a full back who’ll charge forward 60 yards despite his team being 2-1 up at the Emirates with just a few minutes to go. What’s not to love?
7) Danny Murphy is proof that insight and analysis trumps clichés and banter every single time.
8) Piers Morgan is proof that we’ve all sinned in a previous life.