In 2008 I took something of a career break and spent six months or so in New Zealand. Shorty after arriving, England toured New Zealand in a cricket test series. We sat on the grassy hill in Hamilton and took in quite a performance by New Zealand – or the Black Caps as they prefer to be called – as they defeated England. The Black Caps lost the series though kept with them a little piece of my heart.
Ever the penchant for the underdog (it comes with the territory for us, doesn't it?), I continued to follow the Black Caps' progress as they remained at the tail-end of the ICC rankings and became whipping boys amongst the better teams. Come December 2012 they made a bold change, replacing the much-loved Ross Taylor as captain with big-hitting batsman Brendon McCullum.
In January 2013 New Zealand were skittled for 45 in South Africa, instigating a change in philosophy in New Zealand cricket. Rather than continue playing with no soul, they changed style to play with a smile and go all out to try and win games. A go-for-a-win-or-die-trying approach. The results have been impressive enough. They've risen as high as third in the ICC test rankings and reached the ODI World Cup final earlier this year...winning global plaudits in doing so. Doesn't that show you (and this from a country with a population of only 4 million) what a difference a change in philosophy can make?
The introduction of Arouna Kone on Saturday was met with boos from the crowd but it at least resulted in us playing with two strikers on the pitch. Can we not begin games like this every time? I'm confident that a team playing with freedom and confidence with two strikers can do enough damage in attack, whilst our defence and whoever holds in midfield should be experienced enough or streetwise enough to defend.
With the attacking options we have (when everyone is fit at least) throughout the squad I see no reason why we can't get at teams from the jugular. Maybe begin games in this fashion and perhaps try and strangle games later on when our opponents are perhaps chasing the game.
I want to enjoy games again. I can't imagine any neutrals enjoy watching Everton anymore and it certainly wasn't always this way.
Just go for it, Everton. Make it fun again.