Everton give it up for Wigan
Today saw the worst Everton performance in the FA Cup ever. Worse than last year's debacle to Liverpool. Worse than Shrewsbury. Worse than the 1977 replay. Just awful. There was no passion, no commitment, no joy.
All credit to Wigan, who played like a side that demonstrated a will to win and to win well. They came, they played, they conquered. They chased every ball with purpose in the first half, and smothered well in the second. So let us congratulate them on a deserved win and wish them well for the rest of the competition.
But there are many questions to be asked of Everton. The first is why was Gibson not playing from the start? The decision to play Neville instead could have been justified if he had provided inspiration. Instead he gifted the opposition the second goal in a moment of Yoboesque idiocy. Another question has to be asked of Fellaini; that being: 'do you give a damn anymore?' His apparently imminent departure cannot be facilitated soon enough. His form has not so much dipped, but stumbled into an abyss where he is little more than a passenger. I wonder if he is an Iggy Pop fan. It appears he feels he has done enough to guarantee a transfer to a more successful club and is coasting until that time. It is notable that Everton played much better without him in the replay against Oldham. Some may believe that he is the best player in the team, but the last time Everton had a player of such vaunted calibre they finished 17th in the league. A team's best player is not always the best for the team. Fellaini's form is perhaps an indication of why the transfer window is not a good thing. If he wants to go he should go. Waiting does nobody any good.
There are so many other questions and complaints - Jelavic's sweaty pointlessness for one. His nadir was perhaps his laughable handball employing the use of two arms to control a ball dropping from above. Perhaps I am naive, but if a premier league player cannot control such a ball perhaps he needs to be in the Zenith Data League, if it still exists. A little less whinging at the referee and more purpose to your play, please.
The old guard of Neville, Distin and Heitinga employed all their years of collective experience to give Everton organisation at the back that would befit a schoolboy team. The misjudged inclusion of Neville against a swift, strong attacking line has already been mentioned. As for the first goal: it was left to Osman to pick up Kobe. Not Distin or Fellaini, the latter not even deigning to enter the six yard box for the corner.
Barkley was given all of twelve minutes of normal time to aid in turning round a three goal deficit. He demonstrated some deftness and determination before blasting wide a chance. Still, he did not have much time to even warm up.
Some of these questions can be asked of the players themselves, but ultimately they have to be asked of the manager David Moyes. He has been called a great man manager and motivator, but there are some glaringly obvious deficits to his skills. The first is that he appears unable to get more than one good season from any striker. Johnson, Yakubu, Jelavic all played well in season one, as did Marcus Bent, who was mystified as to the reason for his sale. However, the first three mentioned all dipped in form in subsequent seasons. Why is it that Moyes seems unable to enervate the team for the big games that matter? Never mind beating Spurs or City in the autumn. How about winning some games that take us to glory? He has used the excuse that his players are tired. The team that last won the league used 25 players. Last season Everton used 31 players. This season there have been 22 players used so far, unless the official stats are wrong. There is a squad there. There are players there. If they are not good enough then why are they being paid a weekly wage that is equivalent to the average annual salary?
Which brings us to the contract negotiations. Either sign or go. We saw a notable dreadful spell the last time Moyes procrastinated over signing the contract. Miraculously, form improved afterwards. It is obvious that the media love Moyes. They churn out the usual stuff about Everton working on a shoestring. But Everton pay their players well. The seventh best in the league. Moyes is in the top 20 of best-paid managers in the world. He may be the best-paid manager who has won nothing. His relationship with Bill Kenwright is cosy to the point of symbiosis. Both have benefitted from Moyes' disingenuous annunciation as Everton being the People's Club. Everton is the People's Club in the same way as a certain allegedly communist nation is the People's Republic.
As for Bill Kenwright. Well, he was better than Agent Johnson. That has to be said. But this People's Club stuff must stop. There are no more AGM's. Chairman Bill - who has nurtured a personality cult worthy of a dictator - has sold off all the club's assets, made a hash of an excellent relocation to the King's Dock, and effectively silenced dissent. The club is up for sale allegedly, yet a price is as elusive as a buyer. That is not to say that I wish for a Romanesque buyer. Rather, I would like to see the club owned by the fans, which is the system with just about all of the most successful clubs in Europe. But there you go.
Today's debacle revealed the sores underneath Everton's skin. They became as apparent as the empty seats before full time - a sight noted by one commentator never to have been seen at the club. All that can be done is for the team to try top pick itself up. But it is time for the youth to be tested. It is an aging overpaid squad that needs literal rejuvenation. Lay the youngsters. And please stop believing in the hype, Mr Moyes. Take a chance. Excite the fans once more. Or at least get some effort out of your so-called big players.
Have just read the comment from David Moyes - 'It just wasn't our day.' Arrogance or idiocy? You tell me.