‘God is Great’. As Steven Pienaar wheeled away in Everton blue to celebrate the eighth and final goal of an astonishing 4-4 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday, he lifted his vest to leave no-one in any doubt as to who he held responsible for a glorious contribution to a wonderful game.
I don’t quite share Pienaar’s immovable faith. In truth, as vest reveals go, I’d be more inclined to believe in the existence of Lehlohonolo Majoro’s ‘Balz’ than a religious higher power with a fancy beard.
I believe I can, however, state without any cause for argument that Pienaar, in a Toffees shirt, has been great, gargantuan, gorgeous, whatever g-leading adjective you wish.
Everton fans leaping around at Old Trafford would no doubt agree, as, in this instance, would those from the other side of Manchester, whose citizens are suddenly right back in the race for the English league title.
Pienaar just seems to fit in at Everton like a perfect puzzle piece in David Moyes’ tactical jigsaw. When he came back to Goodison Park on loan from Tottenham in the January transfer window, it was as if ‘Schillo’ had never been away, looking utterly comfortable in his accustomed position on the left side of midfield, netting in a 2-0 home victory over Chelsea. Another, quite beautiful finish followed in a 4-0 win over Sunderland.
And on Sunday at Old Trafford, Pienaar was a bundle of mesmerizing energy, surging forward in a silky passing move, or tracking back industriously to help out his defenders.
For his goal, he was heavily involved in the build-up, before ghosting into the penalty area to latch onto Marouane Fellaini’s astute pass. It was pure class.
Bafana fans will hope their captain’s upsurge in form will carry him all the way into the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in June. But there is a serious caveat here. At Everton, Pienaar thrives in a superbly organised team, with technically and tactically gifted players all around him. His allies at Bafana level, with all due respect, do not have quite the same quality.
Pienaar certainly has the same, if not better, quality around him at Spurs, but it did not quite work out in his first 12 months at White Hart Lane. So there’s one perfect solution come the end of the campaign – Everton to buy their returning hero back on a permanent basis. Or is there?
Tottenham’s collapse in 2012 has little to do with Pienaar’s departure – it was not as if he was playing much when they were rampant. But with Spurs crumbling, the powers that be could also reflect that Pienaar is worth another go, particularly in the light of his achievements in the second half of the season.
Pienaar, to my mind, would be better off in Liverpool, in top form and playing regularly. The Bafana captain would surely prefer it that way too. But one feels there is a little time yet, and some wheeling and dealing, before we know for sure whether Pienaar is back next season in Everton blue, or Tottenham white. And if it is White Hart Lane, one hopes he does not return to that career-stalling piece of furniture – the bench. – The Star