Everton FC 1 (Coleman 64)
Leeds Utd 0
18th February 2023, Premier League.
“Dross” Phil Hay described it as on Twitter after the game, and who am I to disagree with him. This was our Last Chance Saloon and, instead of going in all guns blazing, we surrendered meekly and got shot down. Quite where we go from here, I’m not sure, but with Bournemouth and Southampton both putting in tremendous battling performances to get their three points each in tougher games than we faced; things look very bleak for the Whites.
I described this game before kick-off, not as a “must-win”, goodness knows we’ve messed up enough of those recently, but certainly as a “must-not-lose” game. To lose to perhaps our closest rival in this relegation battle would be to hand all the momentum, not to mention three vital points, to them, and I couldn’t envisage how we’d then pick ourselves up and fight for our lives for the rest of the season if we did lose it. Surely All of our remaining games will be tougher than playing Everton, won’t they?
You would have expected to see the sort of fighting spirit and strong determination that we showed for almost two whole games against a far better side, Manchester United, but instead we saw a repeat of that weak and strangely uncoordinated team we saw in the second half at Nottingham Forest. I don’t like suggesting that teams play with a lack of passion and fight because I don’t believe they ever do, but if ever a team ‘looked’ devoid of those attributes, ours did today.
We mustered not a single shot on target in 90 minutes in what was surely our most important game so far this season. We made mistakes with our passing constantly and it looked like we could play ‘til Christmas without troubling Pickford in the Everton goal.
We saw yet another totally abject display from Jack Harrison (what is wrong with him?) and another woeful display with yet another “air-kick” from Patrick Bamford. I’m sorry folks, but we cannot continue to defend them, they added nothing to the game today. I’m not going to castigate Illan Meslier for his error – he’s performed pretty well all season and we know keepers make mistakes now and again, especially young ones like him, but why oh why do all our players continue to make such catastrophic errors? It’s been going on all season, a different player each game I admit, but it’s virtually every player. It’s as if we cannot all concentrate together for 90 minutes.
Anyway, we lost the game and, we cannot say this time “but we played really well” because we didn’t. Where do we go from here? Well, into the Championship most likely now. There are plenty of games left but it’s hard to see where any points are going to come from, certainly if we continue to play like we did today.
If it was me, I’d be looking for a Red Adair-type figure, someone experienced, someone from outside with no preconceptions about our players, a big character to get hold of this squad and start laying down the law. Bamford has spoken about how the regime under Skubala has been more relaxed than it was under Jesse Marsch, well, if it is, then it seems completely the wrong approach to me! Someone needs to get hold of them by the scruff of the neck and sort them out. Is it a job for Big Sam for the last three months of the season – give him his usual million quid bonus and let him have complete reign? There must be others too, but it needs to happen now. The time for talking is gone and we need to shake things up, that was the whole point behind sacking Marsch surely?
Everton FC Leeds U
Possession 50% 50%
Shots 15 8
On Target 6 0
Corners 6 4
Fouls 8 6