The minutes’ silence was immaculate. Not a sound apart from some foot shuffling from latecomers. We’ve done it so many times but it just seemed more poignant this time. It’s shocking to think that the youngest victim would now be 44 years old. Maybe it was the spring sunshine or the mess we’re in but the emotion of it took me by surprise. Perhaps it was a message to keep some sense of perspective for what is coming over the next five weeks.

If there are many more performances like the second half yesterday, what is coming is certain relegation. The last game against Bournemouth won’t be the predicted relegation shoot out; they will be safe and we will be down. It was as bad as anything over the last two seasons. No solidity, no fight, no response. Is it really the case that without Seamus Coleman, there is no other leader in that team? It looked like it.

There were mistakes and poor performances all over the pitch. Players mis-controlled and overran the ball, passed poorly and were physically hustled out of challenges. There was no intensity and seemingly no desire to battle. In the second half, Simms chased a ball into the corner, won it, held it up and waited for support, and waited. A few minutes later, Fulham played a similar ball and three midfielders sprinted forward in support. This difference has been seen in numerous games this season and before. We are just not playing a modern game and we have failed to learn from Fulham, Brighton, Brentford and others.

Sean Dyche is culpable too. Could he not see that long balls towards Maupay and Gray were just heading practice for Fulham? What did he think would happen? At one point Pickford yelled at Godfrey to get him to come wide and short to receive the ball, Godfrey ignored him and the ball went long.

Why too does he leave the attacking substitution so late? Simms should have been on at 1-2. Why does it always have to be one striker for one striker? I wouldn’t have taken Maupay off, partly on the law of averages, he had to be closer to a goal after those misses, partly because, as far as I can recall, he has not yet played a minute for Everton with a physical presence alongside him. Why does Simms start at Old Trafford and Anfield but not yet at Goodison?

Even the crowd is subdued. This is not the atmosphere of 12 months ago against Manchester United and Chelsea. The intensity of that time can’t be repeated season after season.

If you flirt with relegation too often it will take you. If you use successive transfer windows to actually weaken your team rather than strengthening and you can’t score more than one goal per game (it’s not even that good), you have seriously reduced your options.

This is the result of 7 years of mismanagement and negligence by people utterly unqualified to be running a football club. It’s a football failure on many levels from the majority shareholder downwards. To run the finances of a multi-million pound business so badly that you cannot function properly in the transfer market and face potential penalties as a result is something those responsible should be ashamed of.

Unforeseen outside factors have played a bizarre part too. There was a small but significant item in the news on Friday concerning an unnamed player which twisted the knife still further. What would 9 or 10 goals from midfield have done to this team over the last two seasons?

Yesterday seemed like a credible route to safety was closed off. It’s made relegation now more likely than not as far as I can see. I’m not giving up and the crowd will still be up for it. Something has got to come from the players though and that something needs to happen quickly, like an away win, and time is running out.

There is still an option we haven’t tried, the last throw of the dice, caution to the winds attacking approach. But is Sean Dyche the man to do that? Probably not. Not until the last ten minutes against Bournemouth when we throw all or both of our strikers on at the same time. It seems to me he has assessed what he has got, recognised the limitations and decided he can grind out enough 1-0 wins to claw a path to safety.

The cruelty of all of this is that it is happening just as the thing we have craved for decades, a new stadium, is rising in front of us. At this rate the first lucky visitors to England’s newest and most beautiful football stadium will be Rotherham, Plymouth Argyle or Wycombe Wanderers.

Back in January Graeme Souness, of all people, was the unlikely source of some wise words on the subject of Everton, describing our predicament as a ‘national football calamity’ (I’m glad he didn’t say ‘disaster’). It can still be avoided but it’s going to be tougher than ever before and I’m preparing myself for the worst. It’s looking more and more like a perfect relegation storm.

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Reader Comments (8)

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John Raftery
1 Posted 16/04/2023 at 20:51:42
I think to an extent Dyche did throw caution to the wind yesterday in using a 4-4-2 for the first quarter of the game. We had four attack minded players in Maupay, Gray, McNeil and Iwobi. That left the team short in central midfield where Fulham dominated. We simply don’t have the players to operate effectively in an open, expansive style. For me the only way we will gain any more points this season is by reverting to a back to basics approach founded on a compact shape and solid defence.

Our best chance of winning is by playing not to lose.
Andy McNabb
2 Posted 18/04/2023 at 11:43:44
A sad but accurate description of our demise. We simply aren't good enough. I often wonder what Pep would do if he found himself coaching our squad? Apart from resigning, I suspect, not a lot.

In some ways, the new stadium is an unwanted distraction. I wonder if the prospect of the Championship would be all that bad, were it not for the fact that we are embarrassed at the idea of playing non-Premier League opposition there.

For those who desperately want to cling to Premier League survival so we can endure another miserable season of being cannon fodder, answer me this: Who has had more fun in 2022-23 – Everton or Burnley?

Joe McMahon
3 Posted 18/04/2023 at 12:08:23
Andy, and if Everton are relegated, they won't do it in style in the Championship like Kompany has done for Burnley.
Fran Mitchell
4 Posted 18/04/2023 at 12:30:54
Dyche has to take blame for Saturday, we looked solid and competitive using 4-5-1, we tried 4-4-2 against Man Utd and it failed miserably, and it failed once again.

Maupay just why? I wouldn't even consider him worthy of a place on the bench. Simms hasn't looked like Ronaldo, but he's looked like a striker. He's been dealt a shit hand in that his starts have been against teams he's got no chance.

In terms of relegation, if it does happen and I'd say as it stands, it's a 50/50 choice between Leicester, Forest, Leeds, and Everton. I feel that maybe Forest are done for as their home games are brutal and they're useless away from home but same could be said for us.

If it does happen, it will be devastating and could be to the ruin of this club. Equally, if we stay up, we'll likely be back in the scrap for survival this time next year again.

It's just not enjoyable anymore, if it ever was.

Steve Byles
5 Posted 18/04/2023 at 12:36:37
It seems to me our chances of survival depend on Simms leading the line.
Maupey has had enough opportunities to show up but failed, and we don’t provide enough chances in a match for him to nick a goal.
Gray may yet prove to be useful as a late substitute, or an option out wide.
DCL needs rest and therapy I’m sure. If he was well in his head he’d be eager to play his part, if only for the first 60 minutes.

What a sorry state we are!

John Daley
6 Posted 18/04/2023 at 12:38:25
Maupay’s performance on Saturday:


Will Mabon
7 Posted 18/04/2023 at 13:24:14
John, I told them I'd sue if they posted.
Eddie Dunn
8 Posted 18/04/2023 at 13:51:08
Sign him up.

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