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This way madness lies...

By Ed Bottomley :  30/11/2009 :  Comments (0) :
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum. Only the best is good enough. It is the Latin phrase parroted by many Evertonians. And it is laughable. I adore Everton, and there is no question that their success makes me happier than watching them sink, but what makes me love them is simple and unchanging. They are Everton.

Too much microscopic analysis with football is a dangerous occupation - we support a team of people we do not know, a team that has changed wholesale since I first became conscious of Everton in 1990. A team of young millionaire professionals who can reduce us to tears just by giving us their autograph or ruffling our kids' hair.

When we went down 1-0 on Sunday, a stat was thrown out saying that Everton have come back to win from this deficit just once since World War Two. What relation does the Everton team of 1946 have to now? Nothing. We are the only things that bring these players together. Too many people are led by their jerking knees by a media which lives on sensationalism.

There are too many words swirling around our beautiful game. How can people honestly believe that Moyes should be shown the door? The professionals we applaud are in a results driven business, but when did the fans become result driven too? By doing so aren't these fans becoming glory hunters?

Nearly as meaningless as inane statistics are mottoes. "Nil Satis Nisi Optimum" was first used on our shirts in 1980, but has been our motto from the start. One wonders if Stoke City fans demand that their players spend at least five days a week slaving at pottery wheels to slake the demands of their badge...

Could we remove the pressure by taking our motto off our shirts? Arsenal took Victoria Concordia Crescit ("Victory Comes from Harmony") from their badge in 2002, and if anything their football is even more harmonious since they jettisoned the motto.

And what of those with no motto on their shirts like Wigan? Do they wander aimlessly, cruelly denied a footballing moral compass, or are they free from a ridiculous and unattainable promise?

I remember chattering my teeth through an entire Blackburn Rovers game, not through the cold but through searing excitement. I remember Duncan's first game for us,; our adrenaline infused victory over Wimbledon; Brett Angell and the footballing devil on his shoulder which turned him into a stumbling mess; Mikel Madar and his ridiculous hair; Marc Hottiger and his balsa-wood confidence.

Did we cheer until we were hoarse when Farrelly scuffed in his goal, because it was the embodiment of NSNO? None of these things were at the pinnacle of footballing greatness, but they were definitely good enough for me; I cheered them all.

To the fans who pass around one shriveled brain cell like the Lord of the Flies conch, who moan about the best manager we've had in 22 years, and claim inexplicably that 'injuries are no excuse': Don't you dare tell me that only the best is good enough. My Everton are good enough for me, my love doesn't come with Latin caveats.

And don't you dare judge on this season, when we have been knocked for six by injuries. How swiftly you forget that we finished first outside the Top Four last season and cruised to the FA Cup Final. How swiftly you forget freezing Wednesday nights at the Selhurst Park mausoleum, our Dogs of War scrapping for yet another bone.

We played well against Liverpool and lost. If we play anything like that for the rest of the season we will rise up what is a very tight and congested league. Bilyaletdinov was as alone at the back post as Eleanor Rigby, and swept the ball wide — it could so easily have gone in. This season has had more knee-jerk reaction than a reflex hammer.

Luck is a biased croupier, handing out unfair hands, but it just goes to show that it all evens itself up over the course of the season. Liverpool conceded a goal to Sunderland via a devilish deflection off an inanimate object. On Sunday, they scored via a devilish defection off Joey Yobo, Everton's inanimate object.

There is a little sign over Yobo's head that indicates the number of days since his last accident; on Sunday it re-set to zero. But I still love him. I love them all. Would you turn to your son and tell him that you don't adore him because perfection is the only thing that satisfies? Nil Satis Nisi Optimum — this way madness lies.

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