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COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

Season Ends Early

By Paul Traill :  02/03/2011 :  Comments (13) :

Everton 0 - 1 Reading

With the rather unnecessary slightly-earlier-than-usual evening kick off I was left with a bit of a rush in getting to the game straight from work. Earlier in the day I?d been foiled in my attempts to get to a working cash machine so was left in the long queue for the cash machine just by the Royal Oak. I finally was able to get myself a quick chippy tea before catching the others for a quick pint and then heading into the ground. We just HAD to win this one to keep the season alive.

Just the two changes for Everton. Fellaini not fit enough so Rodwell replacing him to hold in midfield and Bilyaletdinov starting on the left with Osman pushed inside, Saha although car-less, apparently fit enough to start. Beckford on the bench with Anichebe, Heitinga, Hibbert, Baxter, Duffy and Mucha. We attacked the Park End in the first half. Andy Marriner officiated.

We began the match reasonably well I thought with Rodwell getting stuck into things in the midfield though it was Shane Long who had the first chance, flicking goalwards following a cross from the left hand side. There wasn?t much in the game at this stage though and Everton came agonizingly close to scoring when Coleman got on the end of an Osman cross, heading down and past the keeper but somehow the ball bounced down and over the crossbar. Osman was again instrumental moments later when he swerved into the box only to drive close to McCarthy in the Reading goal.

Prior to Reading scoring their goal we?d shakily defended a corner and watching the players looking around confused as to who was marking who was nerve-racking in itself. It was therefore no surprise then that Reading scored from this one?the initial ball in not cleared properly and falling nicely for centre-half and captain Matt Mills to bury home smartly on the half-volley. Aggravation all round but plenty of time for Everton to resolve this situation.

That didn?t happen of course and things could have been doubly bad shortly after when the pacey Jimmy Kebe got himself through on goal following a shocking Distin misjudgment though thankfully his shot was well saved by Howard. Everton toiled but struggled throughout the rest of the half with Osman coming the closest with a header which landed on the top of the net. 0-1 at the break and vast improvement needed to stay in the cup.

Watching the warm-up at half time Ste noticed Beckford and Anichebe get called in early. Bilyaletdinov had been hopeless and had the crowd on his back so was clearly going to get subbed, it was just a matter of who else and it in fact turned out to be Coleman as Everton went 4-4-2. Straight at the start of the second half this almost paid dividends when Beckford got behind the Reading defence though could only shoot tamely at the keeper on his left foot. Reading stood firm alarmingly comfortably however, holding us at arms length for most of the half and even creating a few opportunities of their own.

The closest we did come was when Saha did well down the left and crossed deep into the box, Beckford headed across goal for Osman to volley goalwards, only for McCarthy to make a blinding save. When that one didn?t go in you kind of knew this wasn?t happening for Everton tonight. There was a handball shout when the ball appeared to flick off a Reading defender?s arm, though that would have been harsh on the Championship side. Otherwise, Reading were always hungrier for the 50/50 balls and always seemed able to get bodies in the way of the ball. Jose Baxter came on with Everton?s last roll of the dice. The referee granted us a very generous five minutes of stoppage time most of which was wasted in our corner flag and that was that. Everton are out of the FA Cup?exactly what we deserve from a shocking Goodison display.

Loud, loud boos expectedly greeted the Everton players following the full time whistle as Reading celebrated with their supporters. Fair play to them. They were excellent, as acknowledged by many of the Evertonians applauding them off the pitch?though I couldn?t bring to join in the applause myself.

So that?s that for another season. 6th place is Europa League position (so long as Man Utd, Man City or Arsenal win the FA Cup of course) and that is WAY out of reach. Following the trip to St. James Park on Saturday four of the next five are at home. We best make ourselves safe in those games as the fixtures following those look grim with Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea all to come as well as trips to the DW and Hawthorns against teams who will likely be battling for their lives by then. This could be tricky if we don?t secure safety sooner rather than later?

Oh, and now we hear Cahill is out for three weeks and Fellaini out for the season. I wonder if that?s the last we?ve seen of him, as lets face it, exactly what has he got to stick around for at Everton?

Worrying times indeed?let?s hope we can somehow come out fighting.

Player Ratings:
Howard: Made a good save just after we went a goal down and was quite positive with distribution. One of few you couldn?t really blame tonight. 7
Baines: Also rather faultless. Got forward, put good balls into the box and defended pretty well. Surely player of the season. 7
Distan: All over the place. Needs resting. 4
Jagielka: Defended generally OK but his distribution was simply atrocious when we needed better. 5
Neville: Started the game alright but faded as it went on. Was laughably useless in one on one situations both in attack and defence. 4
Rodwell: Started the game well but was nowhere to be seen in the second half. Disappointing. 5
Osman: Rather poor. Did try at least but some of his passing was despicable. Missed the best chance we had of taking something from the game also (albeit via a phenomenal save). 4
Bilyaletdinov: I actually felt a little sorry for him as he looked so lost though I?ve no idea why. It?s not as though he?s just arrived. A few alright passes but didn?t compete well enough and didn?t try hard enough in his 45 minutes. Rightly subbed. 4
Coleman: Squandered our best chance in the first half and wasn?t back for the second. Needs a break and it probably would have been nice to be able to give him one as the season pitters out but that doesn?t look possible the way things are at the moment. 5
Arteta: My man of the match. Was one of few who tried to keep things moving and was badly let down by some of his team mates in my opinion. 7
Saha: Drifted in and out of the game but didn?t really look interested in large parts of it when we needed much, much more. 5

Substitutes:
Beckford (for Bilyaletdinov): Went down with a heavy knock early in the second half and didn?t quite seem at the races after that. Prior to that he?d already missed a decent chance. Hopefully just a blip and he?ll be back to last weekends form come Saturday?but I am only that ? hopeful. 5
Anichebe (for Coleman): Now I?m not one for witch-hunts and I don?t like getting on payers backs to much but Jesus wept, this lad is useless. I lost count of the amount of headers he failed to win when the ball was played up to him. He can?t shoot. He can?t pass. He can?t head. Actually, what can he do? He gets injured in EVERY game he plays. I can?t believe we signed him up on a five-year contract and loaned out Yakubu. Absolutely criminal. 3
Baxter (for Neville): He tried his best to get involved but was brought on to salvage something in ridiculously impossible circumstances. Hard to give him a rating really in the time he had on the field. Would like to see more of him.

Reader Comments

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Adam Fenlon
1   Posted 02/03/2011 at 07:01:48

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Anichebe never used to be anywhere near as bad as he's been this season. Given we've got him on a long-term contract he would actually be the player who should've been sent off on loan to gain some form and match practice, not Yakubu and Vaughan.....

I'd say that at least he was trying today, unlike against Bolton, but completely and pathetically failed to do anything worthwhile. I'm sure Arteta was deliberately avoiding passing to him too, and I wouldn't blame him for that!
Roger Trenwith
2   Posted 02/03/2011 at 09:21:33

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Don't think I've felt this down for a long time. Criminally crap performance.

Yak was loaned out rather than Anichebe because Yak's wages must be twice Anichebe's.

In the words of Fraser "Doomed... we're all doomed"

Richie Whyte
3   Posted 02/03/2011 at 10:52:55

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#1 Adam... forgive me for saying but what exact season was Vic ANY good? Seriously, I'd even take Stuart Barlow back in a hearbeat before Vic...

I'm sorry but I think Paul's rating summary of his performance last night actually encapsulates his career to date. I'm finding it increasingly harder to defend certain players at our club... but Vic was certainly not one of them.

Alex Winstanley
4   Posted 02/03/2011 at 12:14:15

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I am desperate.... I am at work and cannot concentrate on anything. The feeling of depression is being replaced by one of anger. In any other walk of life you would bail out...

If it was a job, you would resign; if it was a marriage, you would get a divorce! Supporting this club is destroying me! I hope the players and management team feel the same way, but somehow I very much doubt it!

Alan Rooney
5   Posted 02/03/2011 at 13:25:43

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I went to see Brighton beat Yeovil last night ? a pretty good game for one-nil. The commitment on both sides was tremendous ? no quarter given and bodies flying all over the place, albeit from fair but hard tackles. And end-to-end stuff. Committment 100% from both sides. The game finished later than the Reading one and so I overhead some one behind me say "Amazing after going down to Chelsea and winning as well". My heart sank!
Andy Callan
6   Posted 02/03/2011 at 14:22:02

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Well, well, well - it feels a bit like I'm just banging the same drum here, but did any of you REALLY expect Everton to win last night.....?!?!?!? It's the same old fuckin' shite; they build you up and let you down, TIME AFTER TIME.

LOADS of people are saying Moyes should go, but the reality of the situation is that it wouldn't fuckin' matter if God was the Manager, he'd have no cash to spend. I?ve said this before but we?ll NEVER win another trophy EVER again us. Never. Unless someone comes in with some investment.

I agree that Moyes?s tactics last night were poor to say the least, but the players should shoulder at least some of the blame ? coz let's face it, THEY WERE SHITE.

For fuck's sake Billy HAS to be better than that, surely ? my fuckin' arl fella would have played better and he's 62 now. Rodwell was useless again, Arteta ran up his own arse again, Baines couldn't be arsed at all (he'll end up somewhere else in the Summer and who can blame him) & Coleman, Saha, Beckford and Victor simply didn't have a clue.

You can carry a few players havin' a bad night, but when all 11 of them do you've no chance.

The best team won last night and ALL the Everton players should be fuckin' ashamed of themselves. Again. The boos at the end of the game said it all to me?. I and 30,000 others have had enough of this shit. I just can?t believe I?ve got a ticket for Saturday ? ?coz that?ll be shite as well.

Les Barson
7   Posted 02/03/2011 at 14:30:14

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Last night's debacle against a workmanlike Reading side was shocking. The seeds for destruction were sown at the start, with Moyes's favoured formation of 4-5-1 ? and this against a Championship at Goodison Park.

We had Beckford on the bench, and the Yak and Vaughan out on loan, so there is no earthly reason to be so negative. But of course we are talking about David Moyes, who stubornly clings to the negative 4-5-1 formation ? in the face of clamour from fans and pundits alike for a 4-4-2 system.

This season has been abysmal ? the players are better than the results, but the tactics and general team management have been naive and outdated.

It is time for a change ? New Investors, in and a Manager who believes in the old adage "attack is the best form of defence" ? a la Catterick, Kendall et al.

I am an Evertonian approaching 50 years of support, and this is one the worst periods I can remember. If the reports of Moyes coining £60-70k a week are true then I am definitely available!!

Matt Traynor
8   Posted 02/03/2011 at 16:33:15

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I don't get why people think our season is over. Mid-table mediocrity is now the target for the season ? we're still in trouble in the league, and as we've shown repeatedly, able to get steam-rollered at home by anyone.

Worrying times indeed.
Ted Smeethes
9   Posted 02/03/2011 at 18:38:26

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I can't believe these comments. I thought the team played very well, just a bit unfortunate. We were much the better team, Osman had a great chance, if that went in, it would have been a different story. To be honest I don't think the team or club took the FA Cup as a priority, just wait for Newcastle, I can feel a great 3-1 win coming on, feel it in my bones.

Come on you blues.

Xavier Spencer
10   Posted 02/03/2011 at 19:01:17

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Fuck me, Ted, please don't operate any heavy machinery in the next 24 hours.
Ernie Baywood
11   Posted 02/03/2011 at 22:51:46

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Ah come on now, Ted!

I couldn't care less whether we beat Newcastle right now. All that will do is keep us in midtable.

We had a great chance to win something and couldn't be arsed. Fucking disgrace. Club is rotten right through ? you can't explain it any other way.
Adam Fenlon
12   Posted 03/03/2011 at 08:36:25

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Richie #3 ? I think it's been about four years since I can remember Big Vic being considered any good ? there was the season when he was our genuine ?secret weapon? in Europe (the year we played the Ukrainian Mentalists, Zenit St Petersburg, etc).

There was when Yakubu first joined us and on first impressions was being shown up by Big Vic?s then workrate (!), and when he was first making the transition from reserves there were a huge amount of people on here screaming for Moyes to give him more gametime?..

Don?t get me wrong, he offers zilch to the team now, but I?m genuinely baffled as to where all that potential has gone?.

Adam Fenlon
13   Posted 03/03/2011 at 08:44:38

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Ted #9 ? I?d agree that some of the comments elsewhere on the site are out of proportion ? yes we played poorly, but its nowhere near as bad as we?ve been on other occasions this season. I saw us dominate possession, but be fairly toothless and not looking like scoring. Boos were definitely called for, hugely disappointing (esp given the opposition), but tbh I?ve seen much worse from Everton.

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