E3 2018: Eight of the Biggest Surprises That Could be on Show

E3 2018 is set for its annual ‘take the video game industry by storm’ event when the biggest names in gaming descend on Los Angeles between 11th and 15th June.

The juggernauts of the industry – Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo – will all be on hand to show off the latest titles and updates to their consoles, while other notable names such as Bethesda, Square Enix, EA and Ubisoft will be showcasing some keenly anticipated games too.

As ever, E3 won’t be without its surprise announcements or demos to set tongues wagging  – but which upcoming or rumoured titles can we expect to hear about this time around?

Here’s eight who could be huge waves at the L.A Convention Center:


Halo 6 (Microsoft)

halo6

Microsoft needs a big win from its biggest video game franchise, particularly with the lacklustre reception to the fifth installment – Guardians – over three years ago now.

What better way to bring the house down at their press briefing, then, than to announce the next chapter in Master Chief’s story?

A job posting on Microsoft’s site on 19th March for a Lead Graphics Designer hinted that something could be in the works, while Brian Jarrard – Community Director at 343 Industries – tweeted that work had begun on Halo’s “next console game” as recently as 17th May.

Further news about a new Halo game – apparently labelled Halo: Infinity – is reportedly set to be announced by Microsoft during their briefing according to Twitter user Brad Sams, but whether it’s the next installment in Master Chief’s story or a standalone – possibly an MMO type game? – title remains to be seen.

Could a small teaser for Halo 6 be done in time to show off at E3? It would give Microsoft something to up the hype levels at their conference.


Fable 4 (Microsoft)

fable

Could a former Xbox stalwart be about to be revived in the shape of Fable?

A January report from Eurogamer suggested that a new Fable game was in the works, and Playground Games – the guys behind Xbox’s Forza Horizon series – are believed to be silently developing it.

Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer tweeted recently that he had “nothing” to announce regards a new Fable game – but is that merely smoke and mirrors ahead of a possible tease?


Bloodborne 2 (Sony)

bloodborne

This one is a huge left field rumour, but it’s been three years since the original was released and fans of FromSoftware want their next fill of the Dark Souls-esque series.

A teaser trailer at last December’s Game Awards hinted at what FromSoftware were working on, but there have been mixed reports over whether their next game is a follow up to Bloodborne 1 or a new IP.

With nothing else in the works – Dark Souls Remastered launched on 24th May – it could be that Bloodborne 2 is FromSoftware’s next video game venture and may be teased at E3.


Metroid Prime 4 (Nintendo)

mp4

Not one word has been uttered by Nintendo about Samus Aran’s next adventure since they shockingly teased Metroid Prime 4 last summer, and we could be about to see some early gameplay footage if quotes from Nintendo’s Norway affiliate is anything to go by.

They alleged, back in January 2018, that Nintendo were “looking forward to 2018, including games like… Metroid Prime 4“.

Coupled with Eurogamer’s February report that Bandai Namco were helming MP4, we could be treated to actual gameplay this month.


Splinter Cell (Ubisoft)

splintercell

It’s been five years since Sam Fisher donned his famous goggles for the last addition to the SC franchise – Blacklist – but leaks aplenty have seemingly let the cat out of the bag over a new installment to the series.

Amazon’s Canada section accidentally listed ‘Splinter Cell 2018‘ on its website back in March, while a massive leak earlier in May from Walmart listed a placeholder for the game too.

It’s high time Sam Fisher made his debut on Xbox One and Playstation 4, and it’s only a matter of time until we get to see a trailer or gameplay based on the above.


Elder Scrolls VI (Bethesda)

skyrim

With sequels to Doom, Fallout and Rage supposedly set to play a major part in Bethesda’s E3 conference, the chances of anything ES6 related are extremely slim.

Back in September 2017 Peter Hines stated that it would “eventually be made”, and not before time given that Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released almost seven years ago.

What gives us hope of some form of announcement or teaser then? The fact that Bethesda have said that “big announcements” will be made and that Todd Howard was quoted as saying “Even my son doesn’t know what’s coming” during an interview in March.

Let’s cross our fingers for something come E3.


Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 3 (EA)

pvz

With previous entries in this humorous franchise launching in February 2014 and 2016, it was surprising to see the third iteration not even announced by February this year.

However, an IGN report in March suggested that a leak over a comic book – that would bridge the gap between the second and unannounced third game – was around the corner.

That’s a good indication that work is being conducted on the next PvZ game, and it wouldn’t be remiss of EA to reveal it at their briefing.


Marvel Avengers Project (Square Enix)

avengers

Despite the announcement of a Marvel-Square Enix collaboration over the Avengers franchise coming in January 2017, not much has been spoken about it since.

All we know is that Crystal Dynamics – the boffins behind the Tomb Raider reboot – are developing it and, with Avengers: Infinity War hitting cinema screens earlier this year and Avengers 4 to come next spring, it would be a good idea to capitalise on this hype in the next 12 months with the release of the game.

IGN reported last September that job postings for Lead Level and Combat Designers were listed on Crystal Dynamics’ website, and that the game would be an online third-person action adventure game set in a universe separate to that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

With Square Enix set to hold their first E3 briefing for three years – likely with plenty of Final Fantasy VII remake footage to show too – now would be a good time to update gamers on their Avengers title too.


What major announcements or surprise reveals would you want to see at E3 2018?

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Farhad Moshiri Needs Marco Silva Appointment to be the Right One for Everton

Farhad Moshiri strolled into Everton Football Club in February 2016 to the sound of the cheering masses who believed that their club had finally found the wealthy benefactor to make them a force in football once more.

Over two years on from his arrival and things haven’t panned out the way many had hoped – yet – if you discount the news concerning a potential world-class stadium at Bramley Moore Dock.

The past 12 months have seen the Toffees go backwards on the pitch, with last summer’s scatter-gun transfer approach failing to pay off, unrest among the fanbase and the playing squad and the chop-change nature of having three bosses all try to implement their ideas on the first team to no avail.

Moshiri, rightly, will continue to be backed by the Goodison Park faithful as he looks to bankroll their rise back into trophy contention – but there cannot be any denying that the pressure may begin to build if 63-year-old’s latest managerial appointment doesn’t adapt to life on Merseyside like his predecessors.

Marco Silva was the man that Moshiri wanted to bring to the club upon Ronald Koeman’s sacking last October and, while it’s taken time to get the Portuguese gaffer through the door, the 40-year-old is here now hopefully for the long haul.

The ex-Sporting, Estoril, Watford and Olympiakos boss heads to L4 with silverware success on his CV and an impressive number of backers – mostly players he was worked with – and should be given every opportunity to prove he is the man to usher in this speculated new era at Everton.

silva

Of course, Moshiri won’t be the only individual who had a hand in bringing Silva to Everton. Newly appointed Director of Football Marcel Brands will have had a huge say in drafting him in on the reported three-year deal, so any blame that would be pointed at the duo – providing Silva doesn’t hit the ground running – would be doled out in equal measure.

It will seem baffling to many to even consider Silva potentially failing when he hasn’t got his feet under the table at Finch Farm, but Moshiri needs this appointment to work if he wants to keep Evertonians onside after the below-par nature of the past year.

Moshiri will want Silva to provide, well, a silver lining to his era at Goodison and the pair – along with Brands – will be given time to see how they fare. Anything else and the pressure may start to tell on the British-Iranian businessman’s footballing acumen.

How Tacoma Proves That Not All Adventure Games Need to be Action-Packed Affairs

It takes something special for a video game to explore the relationships between humans in such a succinct way, particularly if that game is itself fairly brief in nature.

For The Fullbright Company it’s become a norm though, with their Bioshock 2 DLC ‘Minerva’s Den’ and first major title Gone Home receiving critical acclaim in 2010 and 2014 respectively despite the ability to complete both in a single sitting.

Suffice to say, then, that their follow up – Tacoma – was keenly anticipated upon both its unveiling and subsequent release last summer.

Tacoma2Though it may not have hit the heady heights of its predecessor, Tacoma does a valiant job at once again at exploring the connections that make humans, well, human.

It should take just five hours for a player to complete the entire game – achievements and trophies included – but, considering its short-lived affair, it’s easy to be drawn into the survival of the six-person crew on board the Tacoma Lunar Transfer Station.

A key aspect of the gameplay is the ability to rewind time via the use of the game’s ARDware – an augmented reality device that allows Amy, the protagonist, to review past conversations and actions between the crew to determine what went wrong onboard the space station.

It’s from this that Amy is able to delve into both the story itself and the interactions between the crew, and helps each personality to be expressed so eloquently despite the shortness of the game’s run time.

In an adventure game with nothing in the way of first-person action to deal with, atmosphere, story and humanitarian elements are required to fill the gap and Fullbright have certainly capitalised on the last of that trio.

There are clear bonds between the Tacoma’s crew, and it’s hard not to will them on in their quest to a) get to the bottom of what happens to them, and b) to fight back against the fallout from the incident that puts them in grave danger.

Tacoma3

It’s a determination to survive, to find a solution to the problem and inquisitive mindset that helps you feel empathy towards the crew – foundations which are all laid as we learn more about them individually and collectively.

Rooting for those onboard becomes second nature all thanks to Fullbright’s ability to write and design characters that we eventually care for greatly, and proves again that not all adventure games need to be action-packed, blockbuster affairs.

Who Won’t Die in Avengers: Infinity War?

It’s all been leading to this, or so Avengers: Infinity War’s tagline has suggested.

The culmination of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU) will see the Mad Titan Thanos take on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes when Infinity War is released this week, and many fans all over the globe on eagerly anticipating the third installment of the Avengers arc.

Lots are also crossing all of their digits in the hope that their favourite superhero won’t perish at Thanos’ hand, with the likes of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the Vision.

Much has been written about who is expected to give their life to defend Earth, but what about those who should – and almost certainly will – survive to fight another day?

Let’s take a look at the contenders who are pretty much nailed on to take residence in the post-Infinity War MCU:

[NB: Potential spoilers follow on from this point!]


Black Panther

bpMarvel’s biggest money maker after it raked in more cash at the worldwide box office than the first Avengers film, Black Panther – aka King T’Challa – will definitely live.

Chadwick Boseman’s awesome portrayal of the King of fictional African nation Wakanda, and subsequent triumph of the overall film, means a sequel or two are destined to be on Marvel’s Phase 4 and 5 list.

One who should have no worries about making it through.


Spider Man

spidermanPlenty have become a fan of Holland’s Peter Parker in his two MCU outings to date but, judging by footage in one of the trailers, he could come up a cropper against Thanos.

Holland’s Spider Man, though, is another big hit for Marvel and has a six-film deal. Miles Morales’ iteration of the character won’t be too far away from hitting the big screen, but for now expect Spider Man to live to tell the tale.


Bucky Barnes

buckybarnesLabelled the ‘White Wolf’ after seemingly being cured of his Winter Soldier indoctrination at the end of Black Panther, Bucky Barnes should have a big role to play in Infinity War.

Actor Sebastian Stan penned a ludicrous nine-film contract when he signed on for the first Cap film, and has only featured in three flicks to date.

With Avengers 3 and 4 only taking him up to five, he’s a dead cert to make it out alive.


The Guardians of the Galaxy

guardiansYou could expect Marvel to finish off one of their cinematic original Guardians – Star Lord, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Gamora and Mantis – in Infinity War, but there’s not really a reason to do so.

With a third film already slated for release in Phase 4 of the MCU, and with all of the Guardians’ actors and actresses signed on for a couple more films, there’s no reason to suspect they won’t survive and jet off to do some more galaxy defending.


Bruce Banner/The Hulk

brucebannerWith almost all of the original Avengers lineup’s contracts ending after Avengers 4, not many are expected to help usher in Phase 4 of the MCU.

One who should be in line to feature, however, is Mark Ruffalo. The actor has a six-film contract with Marvel and would have one film left to feature in post-Avengers 4, so he must surely fight on.


Hawkeye

hawkeyeHe’s nowhere to be seen in any of the Infinity War trailers, but directors Joe and Anthony Russo have claimed that all will be revealed about Jeremy Renner’s character during the movie.

Renner apparently has a Hawkeye standalone film in his Marvel contract too and, while it’s highly unlikely that’ll ever happen, the fact that it’s there gives leeway to him remaining part of the MCU moving forward.


War Machine & Falcon

wmfalconThe lieutenants of Iron Man and Captain America respectively, James Rhodes and Sam Wilson may be surprise inclusions on this list.

With neither being a full-scale Avenger, it could be easy for Marvel to kill them off without too much backlash – but spots may open up for them in the Avengers lineup after Infinity War.

If Tony Stark or Steve Rogers make it – extremely likely at this point – then the duo could be in line for the mantles of Iron Man or Cap, providing the latter isn’t given to Bucky Barnes.

Alternatively, they just remain as characters in the MCU to help aid the newcomers moving forward.


Ant-Man

antmanA bit of a given due to Ant-Man and the Wasp being the next Marvel film to be released.

Like Hawkeye he’s been absent from any Infinity War promotional material, but with the sequel to the first Ant-Man set to release in the summer it’s obvious that Scott Lang will feature in some capacity past Avengers 3.

It’s unclear where Ant-Man’s sequel lies in relation to Infinity War, but we can expect to see Paul Rudd play some part in Avengers 4.


Anybody else?

widowwitchQuite a lot of the main Avengers and supporting cast are up for the chopping block from Infinity War onwards with a number of A-listers’ contracts set to end after Avengers 4.

Who might be back after that? Black Widow – who may perish – could be brought back if a standalone movie is green-lit, Shuri and Okoye must be dead certs with Black Panther sequels in the works, Dr. Strange if a second film is quietly in the works and Scarlet Witch could be if she doesn’t lose it if/when Vision bites the dust.

Every other bit hitter though? It might be best to have a box of tissues at the ready.


Avengers: Infinity War opens in UK cinemas at midnight on Thursday 26th April

Opinion: Jessica Jones Should Be Applauded for Showing Why it’s ‘Okay Not to Be Okay’

There’s a lot to be said about the topics that Marvel’s and Netflix’s Jessica Jones forces the viewer to confront.

The objectification of women, rape, murder, invasion of privacy and addiction were all covered superbly during the TV show’s first season, and built upon during its 13-episode long season two run as well.

As much as the writing, acting and musical score have been lauded, it is the issues above that will have been debated for days and weeks on end – and anything that helps to raise such issues and get them in the public domain is good in whatever form of media it takes.

[SPOILER WARNING]: Spoilers for Jessica Jones Season Two may follow from this point onwards!

JJ2One theme that wasn’t truly touched upon – or, rather, was given a much broader and wider scope this time around – was something that has become its own hot topic in the real world with the rise of the #MeToo movement borne out of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Jessica Jones‘ portrayal of strong, confident and badass women has helped to bring feminism and equal rights regarding gender back to the forefront of conversations and, alongside the mass movements and demonstrations that have emerged in the past six months, should be applauded.

But what season two of Jessica Jones also shows is that, regardless of how strong or broad-shouldered or heroic someone appears, internal struggles are never too far away.

JJ3The characters in Jessica Jones all display their own insecurities and vulnerable sides throughout the show – male and female it should be noted – and those badges of self-doubt help to shape each individual and flesh out their personalities and ideologies.

Jessica – wonderfully portrayed by Krysten Ritter – fears letting anyone get close to her again after the death of her family. Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), meanwhile, rails against not being a superhero herself and longs to be ‘the good’ that she sees in Jessica, even if the latter doesn’t see it.

Even lawyer Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) sheds her tough exterior as she comes to terms with her amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease – going through the whole five stages of grief as she’s reduced to tears during one particularly emotional moment.

Marvel's Jessica JonesIt’s proof that even the hardiest of souls can be beset by negative thoughts and feelings, and shows that anyone, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, creed or race can be afflicted by uncertainty.

What does this tell us overall? That being strong and independent are perfectly sound qualities to possess. But, in equal measure, that it’s okay to take off the mask or break down the walls and allow people to be vulnerable. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of for letting others in and expressing emotion.

Jessica Jones does plenty right through its medium, but it is perhaps its willingness to bring these difficult discussions to the fore that stands it out from the crowd and makes it a must watch for any TV fanatic – no matter what your knowledge of comic book lore is.

Everton Football Manager 2018 Series: Episode 7

With 2017 fading into the sunset and 2018 showing itself in via the back door, there was little let up in the fixture list for Everton.

A daunting December had offered up a mixture of results and, whilst most were positive, we needed to bounce back from two expected losses against two elite sides.

Our first game of the New Year saw West Ham host us at that there London Stadium with the opportunity to put that Chelsea defeat behind us:

everton38Well stalemates are always likely, and neither side could break the other down in a even contest. I guess our upcoming FA Cup third round game would be the game to end our mini goal drought.

Fleetwood Town were the opposition we’d be facing on home soil and the prospect of a giant killing at Goodison Park didn’t bear thinking about:everton39It’s a good job we did a decent enough job to prevent that then. Sandro and Gylfi Sigurdsson bagged first-half goals to put us into the hat for the next round, though it would’ve been nice to score more.

But we must plow on, and another long trip down to the south coast is in order to face recently promoted Brighton at the Amex. We hadn’t been playing well but I still expected a win:everton40And a win is what we got, albeit in late fashion. They were the better side but, like any good Manchester United knock-off team, we grabbed the decisive goal to leg it back up the north west with three points in the bag.

Speaking of United, how about we host them next in the Premier League? I’d prefer not to either, but we might as well get the formality that is a loss to them out of the way:everton41I was joking, lads, we can end this run you know. Not this time around evidently as the Red Devils’ class told once more. We’ll find a way to beat you one day, Jose…

Croydon called next and the chance to move on swiftly from that Goodison defeat was in order. Would we reign supreme against royalty in the form of Crystal Palace (see what I did there? No? Oh blow you then…):everton42Hmph. I don’t know what was more baffling. That both of our goals were own goals from the same guy or that we drew because our nemesis Christian Benteke nabbed himself a brace. Curses and what have you.

No matter. A fourth round FA Cup encounter with Championship side Wolves would get us back to winning ways, even if it is at Molineux:everton43Double hmph. It seems we just can’t hold a lead of late and, even more annoyingly, they outplayed us for much of the contest. We’ll have to do the deeds at Goodison instead.

I’m not tempting fate by saying “Blah blah we’ll beat Spurs blah” as I’m starting to learn that not everything is rosy in our camp… but I remain hopeful. We’re at home after all and beat them in north London back in October. What could possibly go wrong?everton44That. That’s what could go wrong. Uuuuurrrggggh.

Everton Football Manager 2018 Series: Episode 6

There’s an old Christmas carol – ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ – which may have been an apt song of choice as Everton thundered into the month of December.

Some decent form in the Premier League and on the continent had set us up nicely as the halfway stage of the season approached fast, but whether we could maintain that moving forward would determine if it would be a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays for all involved.

A monster trip down to the south coast lay in store with Bournemouth the first team who had the chance to make us want to consume all of our advent calendar chocolate in one go:everton30We’ll stick to the ‘one piece a day’ principle then. An even contest punctuated by two classy goals from two of our more senior attackers did the deeds and had us dreaming of continental football next term.

But that would have to wait as our final Europa League group game was next in line. An away day in the Russian capital would determine if we’d finish top and have a good draw in the last-32:everton31Good lads! A very, very promising away display and top spot in Group C was ours despite the fitting wintry weather. It’s a good job we won for those 425 hardy fans who made the journey, wasn’t it?

With European football done and dusted until February, our league position could be handed a mighty boost heading into the New Year. First up was a home clash with West Brom:everton32You know, I’m starting to enjoy these winning runs. We were handed all three points by some laughable Baggies defending – two own goals, really? – before Cenk Tosun put the gloss on a routine win at Goodison but we’ll take it.

Could Watford do what West Brom couldn’t and halt the Blue juggernaut in its quest for a top four berth? Magic ‘8’ ball says ‘not likely’, and it was proven right:everton33Again, it wasn’t vintage but we were doing enough. Second half strikes from Nikola Vlasic and Davy Klaassen ensuring we continued our stunning form of late and even pushed us into the heady Champions League qualification spots.

Only three days had passed yet again before a visit to the Liberty Stadium to take on struggling Swansea. Could we finally make it two wins out of two on the road?everton34Yes. The answer, finally is yes. A lacklustre first 45 – how many times have we said that? – made way for a terrific second period that led to a late triumph thanks to young attacking duo Sandro and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. We were up to third. Bloody third, lads!

But not for long. After an easy run of fixtures we were sent to the Etihad to endure our toughest league test for some time. And it didn’t exactly pan out well:everton35We really did our best but Manchester City completely blew us away. In truth they should have won by more and our attacking forays were about as regular as a bus replacement service when the train strikes are on.

Still, the chance to bounce back against Middlesbrough at home came on Boxing Day and might prove to be a lovely belated Christmas present for us all:everton36That’ll do nicely. Tosun and Theo Walcott back among the goals, a clean sheet and putting that City result to bed was definitely needed.

Before we saw 2017 out we faced a daunting game against Chelsea.. We weren’t at the races against City but, on home soil, I suspected we’d give a better account of ourselves:everton37We certainly give it a good go, but ultimately Willian’s first-half strike proved to be the difference. Still, fourth in the standings and in the next round of the Europa League and Christmas had indeed come at the right time.

Everton Football Manager 2018 Series: Episode 5

After an outstanding October, the bitter winds of November could have heralded something of a downturn in Everton’s fortunes.

The wind was certainly behind us and, with a Merseyside derby win fresh in the minds, it was time to take advantage of our confidence levels and continue to perform above expectations.

A trip to Sparta Prague was first up as we looked to book passage to the next round of the Europa League:everton24And the disappointment of failing to hold a lead away from home continues. We weren’t bad as the stats show but, ultimately, a goal on the stroke of half-time for our Czech opponents did enough to throw us off our game. Qualification for the last-32 would have to wait.

A draw away from home is never particularly a bad result, especially on the continent. Or when compared to this absolutely out-of-nowhere scoreline as we travelled to face a Leicester side struggling in the Premier League:everton25Go on, laugh it up. I certainly did. Once I’d stopped crying into my coffee and resisted the urge to launch my laptop from my bedroom window.

I’m still at a loss to explain why we were so bad. We genuinely couldn’t handle Kelechi Iheanacho or Jamie Vardy. I’m still having nightmares about them now.

We couldn’t out-battle the Foxes, but maybe we’d have more look against the Magpies. They’re much more squishable, right?everton26Right. The perfect response after a drab first half with super-sub Cenk Tosun showing his class against a team we should be beating – and did beat – on home turf.

Back to Europe and another chance to throw our name in the hat for the last-32 stage. Rosenborg secured an unlikely draw in our first encounter but, with a strong team out there, I had every expectation of securing a vital victory to all-but-confirm our progression:everton27Bish, bash and bosh. A stunning display of attacking verve, unrelenting tempo and clinical finishing -let’s not talk about our lack of clean sheet again eh? – ensured we’d at least finish runners-up in the group.

And still the games come. Another journey away from Merseyside, and this time our team bus trundled up to surprise top flight package Stoke City, who were lying in fourth at the time. Could we ‘do a Spurs’ and secure a priceless three points?everton28This is starting to smart. They weren’t lethal but we were second best throughout the game and deserved to fall to defeat. It’s not as if we were resting players either. A return to the drawing board for our away tactics was long overdue.

But that would have to wait as, a mere 72 hours later, Arsenal rolled into town. This would be a true test of our mettle. Beating the Gunners would surely send out a massive message to everyone else, despite our terrible record on the road:everton29What. The. Absolute. F*ck. Just take that screenshot. Take in all of its majesty, its awe and realism.

A quite amazing 25-minute hat-trick from Sandro blew the visitors away as we scored our first three main goalscoring opportunities and, in spite of the north Londoners’ valiant fightback – which did make me bite a few nails down to nothingness – a fourth for my Spanish hero and one for Gylfi Sigurdsson handed us the points.

A rollercoaster of a month brought to a close, it was time to draw breath before heading into the madness that was December. Though how much more crazy could it get? Wait, don’t answer that.

Everton Football Manager 2018 Series: Episode 4

October. The month of colourful leaf shedding, the sugar-laden holiday of Halloween and the time of year that I celebrate my birthday.

Would Everton, then, hand me a four-week celebration to savour or make me so mad that I spend it drunk and crying about why we’re so guff?

A visit to Wembley – the temporary home of Tottenham Hotspur – could show whether the latter would prove to be binge-drink inducing. I was expecting the worst:everton19In the words of Ron Burgundy: ‘By the beard of Zeus!’

I don’t know how they did it, or what I said, or what we collectively did, but somehow we were celebrating a first away victory in the Premier League at one of the best teams around.

Even more impressively the lads came from behind to win, with Cenk Tosun in particularly fine form as he nabbed another brace to continue his decent start. Hip hip and, dare I say it, hooray.

With that result in the bag, the FM gods would, by the powers of balance, decide to hand us a shock home defeat to newly-promoted Huddersfield off the back of that surprise triumph:everton20Huh. I guess they’d all been partying the night before and were too hungover to intervene.

The customary ‘rocket at half-time’ team talk at the interval thanks to an underwhelming first 45 performance and, the good lads that they are, elected to smash the Terriers and leave them with their tails very firmly tucked between their legs.

A home tie against Sparta Prague in the Europa League followed those two domestic clashes, and another win would do very nicely indeed:everton21It’s a relatively easy thing to state, but it’s pleasing to see us rack up three successive wins. It was a deserved victory and, coupled with our earlier results, had us sitting nicely in second place in our group.

A potentially tricky trip to Turf Moor to face Burnley was next up. Given how well we’d done against Spurs, had we finally turned a corner with regards to our away form?

In a word, no:everton22It was to be expected. We’re not the tallest team in the Premier League and, in Chris Wood, Burnley have a powerful striker who dines on whipped crosses into the box. That’s something to bear in mind for next time we play the Clarets.

Those are the kinds of matches that will put paid to our hopes of finishing as high as possible in the top flight and, with a Merseyside derby at Goodison Park fast approaching, those two dropped points could be something that bites us on the arse.

Could I become the first Everton boss in almost eight years to lead the Toffees to victory over them lot across the park? I guess there’s only one way to find out:everton23I’m not sure what’s more incredible. That we actually beat Liverpool, that ‘Mr Snake’ himself Mo Besic scored his first ever goal for us or that it proved to be the winning strike in a Merseyside derby.

Theo Walcott got us off to a storming finish inside 30 seconds – the best way to start any game, let alone against your rivals – and, while Daniel Sturridge’s late goal led to some squeaky bum time, Besic’s maiden Everton goal proved to be the difference.

I take it all back, Mo, play as many games as you damn well like from now on.

Unbeaten in five matches and fourth in the league standings, October seemed to finally be a turning point in our season.

Next time: Into the crunch domestically and continentally…

Everton Football Manager 2018 Series: Episode 3

The long summer days of August make way for Autumnal winds in September, or Fall if you’re of an American disposition.

There could be a hilarious joke about ‘falling’ down the league table here, given how wildly inconsistent we’ve been this season, but things have actually appeared to be looking up.

With the international break providing a much needed break for those not in action for their countries, a return to action against Manchester United was the perfect setting to get domestic proceedings back underway he said through gritted teeth:everton13And that, ladies and gents, is how frustrating we are on the road. Luke Shaw’s sending off just minutes after Anthony Martial’s opener gave us huge hope of actually winning a match outside Merseyside but, no, we fell further behind instead.

Matters were further compounded when Muhamed Besic received his own marching orders, because 10 vs 11 wasn’t annoying as it seemed  and, after yet another blast in the dressing room at half-time, an improved showing saw Davy Klaassen grab a consolation.

Not content with serving up a ‘early bath’ performance at Old Trafford, Besic had also elected to induce a changing room mutiny when he was dropped from our 25-man Europa League squad in favour of loan signing Daley Blind.

What? I didn’t mention that? Well, we’ve got Blind on loan for the season as Garbutt’s, well, garbage and Baines needs cover.

Despite being told it was necessary to cull a midfielder for much-needed defensive cover, the Bosnian threw a wobbly not unlike that of a child being denied its favourite bedtime story for the fifth night in succession.

Editor’s note: This is where that conversation with Besic would have gone if Tom had elected to, you know, print screen it before – well, this would spoil things now wouldn’t it?

Given that Besic wasn’t too influential in the dressing room, I was informed by my assistant that it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. He was wrong.

Editor’s note 2: And here. Sort it out Tom, for goodness sake!

With morale down among my stars and a revolt just two months into my reign, it wasn’t a surprise to see us stupidly throw away a 2-0 lead away to Rosenborg in our first Europa League group game days later:everton14Two late goals from Yann-Erik de Lanlay robbed us of all three points and Besic any opportunity to feature for us for a loooooong time to come. The dickhead.

Four games without a victory and a home encounter with recently-promoted Brighton offered a huge potential banana skin to us. How would we fare with almost everyone against me thanks to Besic-gate?everton15It was crap, we were crap, but a vital win was picked up thanks to Sandro’s solitary strike. Bless you, you wonderful Spaniard.

A tricky Carabao Cup home contest against Arsenal was thrown up three days later and, with injuries starting to mount and the games coming fast again, the chance to play some fringe players wasn’t to be passed up. Hopefully they could do the deed and send us into the fourth round:everton16Eh, there’s always next year. And at least Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored his first of the season…

One win in six. Ugh. But, with two more home matches to come against ‘easier’ opposition, we had a grand chance to get some positivity rolling. Crystal Palace were up first:

everton17

Keane as mustard! Hahaha…haha…ha.

Much like Brighton it wasn’t pretty, but Michael Keane’s first Everton goal proved to be the difference. Coupled with yet another home league clean sheet and we were looking good at home. If you forget that Arsenal loss. Ahem.

It was time to round September out with a Goodison meeting against Lokomotiv Moscow in the Europa League. We need a win here. Nothing else will do:everton18That’s more like it. Tosun and a Walcott brace – though it should have been a hat-trick – in a commanding display not seen since Norrkoping. Back-to-back wins again and things were looking rosy ahead of *gulp* an away trip to Spurs…

Next time: Obscene October has Evertonians dreaming of success?!