It’s like ground-hog day at Goodison Park these days, in fact it probably has been since the beginning of last season. What a horrible result and frustrating display against Swansea City on Sunday afternoon. A result that has seen the fume amongst Evertonians reach new levels, with many Blues now calling for the Manager’s head and the Toffees left looking over their shoulder in the table at a potential relegation dogfight.
With this crop of players, to find ourselves in that position, is criminal, end of story.
With only six wins in the League all season and Everton sitting in 12th place in the table going into the game with Swansea, today was a real opportunity to get ourselves back into the top ten. It was also a chance to register our first League win of the new year and provide a big boost ahead of what is arguably Martinez’ biggest game as Everton Manager this Wednesday night at Man City. But then you soon remember this is Everton. Everton don’t seem to take these chances. Everton never seize the opportunity. Everton have the worst defensive record in the Premier League and Everton have only won three games at Goodison Park all term. Any early excitement we felt from seeing the team sheet – with Mirallas, Deulofeu and Barkley all on the pitch from the off – and witnessing Mo Besic hit the post early doors – soon began to disappear when Besic was forced off with what looked like a hamstring problem after ten minutes. If the injury to Besic dampened the Goodison mood then what followed was a heavy downpour on L4. On 17 minutes John Stones, who went on to have a shocker of an afternoon, hesitated with back-pass to Tim Howard and Andre Ayew capitalised by winning himself and the visitors a penalty.
The whole part of that passage of play was ridiculous. Stones – who in my opinion is often too cocky on the ball – could have simply turned away from goal, hit the ball long or looked for a pass to Oviedo. However, the young defender dwelled on the ball, then laid in a short pass to Howard who came out and booted Ayew, felling the Swansea forward and a penalty was then rightly rewarded. Stones was in the wrong, and I’ve seen pensioners react quicker to an empty seat on the bus than Tim Howard for his part in the build-up, but the whole scenario just typified our play at the back this season. We are a joke. So disorganised and inviting to the opposition. We are our own worst enemy.
Sigurdsson inevitably scored the resulting spot kick (has an opposing player ever missed one against us?) and the Swans had the lead. The funeral-esque atmosphere at Goodison and early goal for the visitors made you soon realise, it was probably going to be one of ‘those’ days. However, eight minutes after going behind in such calamitous fashion, the home side got themselves a leveller. Deulofeu, who was Everton’s Man of the Match and only real shining light from the performance, teed up Gareth Barry, who also played well, at the near post to flick home – although the goal has been credited as a Jack Cork own goal. Whoever got the final touch didn’t really matter to us Evertonians because we were level and had reacted well to going behind.
But with an Everton positive inevitably comes an Everton negative, this time with Mirallas forced off with an injury. Pienaar replaced him and we’d seen two of our most in-form players taken off with knocks in the opening half an hour. You just couldn’t write it, such bad luck, especially three days before a massive Semi-Final. Back to the action and apart from a long-range Deulofeu effort and a couple of inviting balls from the Spaniard, we never even had ten minutes to build on our leveller as Swansea again took the lead. In the build-up Deulofeu looked to flick the ball round his man and break away, but he was stopped courtesy of Ashley Williams’ hand, only for the referee to allow play to go on, Neil Taylor to then link up with Andre Ayew who fired a deflected effort past flappy-armed Tim to make it 1-2 just after the half hour.
As soon as they build you up, they knock you down, it’s the Everton way.
Yes the referee should have blown for a handball but what the hell were our defenders doing once again. Oviedo – who is simply not good enough and is dining out on a goal against United many moons ago – was half asleep, might as well have not been there, and Barry lost his man, then Stones manages to get a block in but it loops past Howard who seemed to duck and come off his line as Ayew shot. A catalogue of errors. We didn’t play the whistle and got carved open like the proverbial knife through butter. It was so easy for Swansea and Goodison heads hung in despair.
Before the break, Ross had a great run down the left but it came to nothing, Lukaku headed wide from a Deulofeu centre, then hit an effort past the post, but we couldn’t find a second equaliser and it would be a case of regrouping for the second half.
If we thought it would be all Everton in the second period then the early signs were not good as Wayne Routledge went through on goal. Thankfully, Tim Howard made the save by making himself big – just like his ego – and kept the score down to 1-2.
After that we did raise it, we did go at Swansea, but why couldn’t we find this tempo when it was 0-0? Baines set up Barkley who skied it over from just yards out, with an offside flag sparing his blushes, before a succession of inviting balls from Deulofeu had the home crowd tearing their hair out, that’s if they have any left after today. Deulofeu was class, creating openings and cutting over dangerous balls. Pienaar latched on to one early in the second half but blazed over, before a whipped cross evaded everyone and if someone from our forward line would have gambled they’d have had us level. Deulofeu shook his head and walked away and that would have been similar to many Evertonians’ reaction after today’s travesty.
On the hour mark the game opened up, Sigurdsson fired an effort at Howard before Lukaku curled an effort wide at the Street End. Martinez threw on Coleman for Oviedo on 65 minutes – hardly the most offensive move considering we had Aaron Lennon and Arouna Kone on the bench – and the Irishman immediately claimed for a penalty when his cross hit Neil Taylor’s hand. Our appeals were waved away as the groans for an equaliser continued. Lukaku headed down from a Barkley cross but the Swansea ‘keeper was equal to it, we were becoming desperate.
With fifteen minutes left, Deulofeu was again at it down the right and hit a sublime ball across the box that was, yet again, missed by every fucker in a royal blue shirt and floated harmlessly out of play. I’m sure Deulofeu was probably thinking to himself what the hell have I brought myself back to this lot for. He literally did all he can to set up opportunities for us. Opportunities that the rest of our team seemed unwilling to get involved in. So frustrating.
Towards the end we huffed and we puffed by Swansea stood firm. Ashley Williams was superb at the heart of their defence – what we’d give to have defenders like him who defend properly and guess what – do the basics right! William’s had to marshal his back line right until the end but the visitors made it difficult by being so compact. Everton passed the life out of the ball but it wasn’t until the final second of the match that we carved out a chance, the best chance of the game by a country mile. Baines took a couple of late corners and it was his final ball of the game that found John Stones, Stones headed the ball across goal and substitute Seamus Coleman looked set to score, only for the right back to blaze his effort over the bar and into a raging Gwladys Street. It was harder to miss and summed up our day.
To be fair, even if Coleman had netted, in my opinion a 2-2 draw would have hardly been much better. Obviously we would have earned a point but another draw isn’t getting us anywhere, we need wins, and we need them soon.
We’ve won just three times since September – every one of them wins has come against the current bottom three in the League. Unacceptable. We’ve won only one game in our last ten games. Unacceptable. Swansea had two shots on target in the first half today and scored with both. Unacceptable. We’ve conceded the most goals (34) in the League this season. Unacceptable. We’ve conceded 22 of those goals at home. Unacceptable. We’ve conceded two or more goals in 7 of our 12 games at Goodison. Unacceptable. We are just a point above Chelsea who have apparently had a shocking season, and just five points ahead of 17th place Norwich. Unacceptable. We’ve won 6 games from 23 this season. Martinez won 21 games in his first 38 as Everton Manager, yet has only managed 18 wins in his last 61 – if a sentence summed up our last 18 months, then that is it. The league table doesn’t lie, the statistics don’t lie, and whatever shit Martinez chats in his press conferences doesn’t count for anything, we are not anywhere near where we want to be, we are a long way off fulfilling our potential, and if people want to suggest we are close to something special, on today’s viewing I’d say we are a country mile away from doing something special.
If Wednesday was massive now it is huge. If we lose to City then Martinez, a Manager who has already lost thousands of Evertonians, will lose an awful lot more and this season will be a write off. I’m not going to even bother to suggest he will be sacked because I honestly don’t know who is in charge at Everton these days, and even if I did I know it is very unlikely he will be dismissed anyway. It’s unlikely we will spend any money too this month which is another argument in itself – surely you build on what you have if you want to be successful? Especially when you aren’t doing so well. The whole situation at Everton is one big secret, and it’s doing my head in.
There’s been no Europe this time around, no excuses about players having time to settle, we’ve got a good squad, some hugely talented players, some of the best attacking players we’ve ever had in recent times, yet we are still massively underachieving, and the Manager has to take a large slice of the blame for not addressing the problems we face and the issues that continue. We live dangerously at the back and get punished for it, teams know how we play and we get punished for it, our style means we get exploited, especially at Goodison, and we are sticking with a ‘keeper who’s presence in goal is simply making watching Everton unbearable. Didn’t we have similar problems last season? I think you find we did, and he’s done fuck all about it. Not good enough.
In my opinion, Gareth Barry, Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu are the only ones who can hold their heads up high so far this season, the rest have been average overall. Some have shown glimpses, but those three mentioned above have been more consistent than most. It’s about time this team and manager took a good look at themselves, some of the boys need to become men, some of our more experienced lads need to show their experience and worth and get a grip of themselves otherwise we are in danger of falling a lot lower in this league. We might have players who think they are too good for a relegation fight, and fans who believe the same, but I am certainly not taking anything for granted in this league.
There’s a long way to go and time to turn it round, but for me Martinez is already on borrowed time and needs to win on Wednesday to salvage some hope and attempt to drag this side back up the table.
For the moment I’m left scratching my head after yet another lacklustre, predictable display from a side whose Manager who has become too stubborn for his, and more importantly, Everton’s, own good.
Sort it out for fucks sake.