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Everton 2 - 2 Sunderland

Half-time: 1 - 1

Sunderland Logo
FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #38
3pm Saturday 19 May 2001
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 37,444
« Chelsea (a) Ref: Steve Bennett Next Season »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 16th [ Results &  Table ]
Idan Tal Everton started their final game of the season brightly, with Idan Tal finally being given a start.  And he repaid the honour in spades, breaking strongly into the Sunderland penalty area and getting hauled down after just 8 mins?  Penalty!  No. The ref bottles it and gives an indirect free-kick inside the area!  No problem: Idan Tal drives home the tap on via a deflection: 1-0!

The Everton players were reportedly desperate to put in a good performance, but a season of negative tactics from Walter Smith cannot be reversed at a stroke...  There was an inevitability about the moment when Kevin Phillips, unmarked in front of Gerrard, took the ball high on his chest, spun around and hammered it past the Everton goalie who, Opta stats tell us, is one of the worst goalies in the Premiership. 

Sunderland continued to press Everton back, and Gerrard made a couple of good saves to be fair, but this was by no means a showpiece performance from Everton, who were struggling to match the class on show from Peter Reid's charges.  Don Hutchinson, who had surprisingly started on the bench, came on for Arca to a rousing reception from Evertonians around Goodison Park just before half-time.  Everton finished the half with a strong attack, Mark Pembridge hitting the post.

Everton battled hard in the second half, pushing Sunderland back and winning a string of corners which were wasted in current Everton fashion.  A moment of excitement came from David Unsworth when his excellent free-kick struck the crossbar.

Don Hutchison then committed a desperate challenge to stop Unsworth in the area and give away a penalty.  The red card was shown to Hutchison, who was applauded off the field but Unsworth's weak penalty kick was saved easily.  A golden chance missed (again, at the Park End!). 

Everton really started to take the game to Sunderland, but the finishing (Gravesen) or the final ball (from the likes of Campbell) were woeful.  Then a stroke of luck as Craddock hauled down Pembridge for another penalty.  Ball made no mistake.

Goodison was in buoyant mood as substitutions were made, with Tal getting a resounding applause for his efforts, and Everton relaxed a little on their hard-earned lead...

Then, Phillips simply ran at the Everton defence, which backed off and backed off, allowing the genius to scramble the ball into the net for a stunning equaliser.  

As the game faded into the summer sunlight, a bizarre decision by the referee to award an indirect free kick for an alleged back-pass by Watson.  Gerrard was booked for his vehement rejection of the referee's madness, and he of course responded by moving the kick forward 10 yards, to the edge of the 6-yard box!  Sunderland must score, with all 11 Everton players on the goal-line and Gerrard in front of him... but Phillips's strike was amazingly cleared off the line by Watson.  

It's nothing of not exciting!  What an incredible half of action and excitement to finish such a miserable season.  Football, eh?  Ya gotta love it.



EVERTON: Tal (9'), Ball (pen:76'); Unsworth penalty saved (64')
Sunderland: Phillips (21', 83')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
EVERTON: Gerrard; Weir, Ball, Unsworth, Watson; Naysmith, Gemmill, Gravesen (80' Cadamarteri) , Pembridge; Campbell, Tal (80' Alexandersson).
Unavailable: Pistone (
suspended); Ferguson, Gascoigne, Gough, Jeffers, Jevons, Moore, Xavier (injured); Nyarko (absent); Myhre (on loan). 
Simonsen, Clarke, Hibbert.
Sunderland: Sorensen; Arca (45' Hutchison (70' Sent Off!)), Carteron, Gray (74' Williams), Thome; Craddock, McCann, Schwarz, Kilbane; Phillips, Quinn (74' Kyle). Thirlwell, Macho.
   Playing Strips  Formations
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2
Sunderland: Red & white shirts; black shorts; red socks. 4-4-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Weir (31'), Watson (40'), Tal (63'), Ball (66'), Gravesen (78'), Gerrard (90')
Sunderland: Kilbane (20'), Schwarz (76'), Craddock (76') Hutchison (70')
 Sports.Com Detailed Match Stats  

Guy McEvoy Going Out in Style
Steve Bickerton Another Bizarre Referee
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Galling ending for also-rans
by Trevor Haylett
THE SUNDAY TIMES Sunderland hold deserving Everton
by Peter Mitchell
THE TIMES Everton settle for safety and stability
by Oliver Kay
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 Going Out in Style
Mickey Blue Eyes
Haha.  That headline fooled you didnt it.  Humphrey Bogart had it right: the art of Needling is to get someone to the point where they want to punch you.  But to be sitting down when you do it.  Nice one, Bogey.

A bit like Oscar Wildes last mortal moments on the planet.  There he was, ill and waiting for the Grim Reaper en Paris, stretched out in an unkempt bed in a fourth rate hotel in a third rate, left-bank arrondissement.  Aesthetically sensitive to the last he eyed the flock wallpaper.  One of us, he said wearily, has to go. And so one of the great Irish wordsmiths of the English language rolled off the perch, a loss beyond measure.  Dunno when the flock wallpaper got removed.

Come to think of it our last season was similar to flock wallpaper.  You know, horrible but fascinating at the same time.  If you stare at it long enough you can find patterns in there somewhere.  You can make of it what you will.

So a final assembly took place in the Black Horse.  Amongst other things we were assembled to organise distribution of the latest leaflet of the Kings Dock for Everton Group.  We have long won the design argument.  Ours is the best by light-years.  As expected, now we engage the political and power structure of vested financial interests.  And we all know what that means in England.  Anyone in doubt can ask Mohammed Al Fayed, the Conservative Party, unaccountable and tax-subsidised Big Business, the Labour Party, Neil Hamilton, assorted City Suits, the Old/Young Boy Network, and various useless local MPs.  You might even get some input from AMEC, our chief transnational shortlisted Manchester competitor.  Dont hold your breath though.  Carpetbaggers know when to stay silent or issue a standard anodyne letter of reply.  Still, the fight goes on.  Win it and we are transformed. Lose it and we are put back by a decade.  If you care for your club, ENGAGE THE ISSUE.  It is far more constructive than wittering on like a poisonous old fish-wife about media deals and all the rest of the transient commercialised muck.

The final match took place on a beautiful, short sleeves sunny day to rival the opening game at Leeds.  The Mackems brought a large if partly muted following and the fans mixed easily in the pubs before settling down to howl standard mantras at each other from the stands.  One day genuine humour will return and well be shut of this tiresome 2001-Threatening-Dance-At-The-Waterhole ritual.  It goes without saying that the vast majority of fans are only interested in the footy.  Which means theyre mostly ignored by a morally bankrupt media who at times seem intent on fuelling artificial hatred. But true fans know whats important anyway.

For instance, I was hardly two paces beyond the turnstiles when I overheard someone say, You heard? Theres a press conference at six oclock. Walter Smiths resigned. I immediately thought Bollocks and made my way to my seat in the beloved Lower Street End.  Greetings all round, then Peter said, You heard? Theres.. I cut him off, .a press conference at six oclock, yadadayadayada? How the fuck did you know? he asked testily.  Well, I said equally testily, Im willing to bet you wont find a fan in the ground who DOESNT fucking know by now. And so it transpired.  All day and all bloody tiresome night too.  Gossip, dontcha hate it in any form.

Smiffy, as usual, had a surprise of his own: The Gravedigger lined up up front and stayed there for all of a quarter of an hour before dropping back to fuck knows where.  Im still trying to figure out where exactly.  And Idan Tal was in from the off.  Wide right, with Nic on the bench.  Oh well. Gary was back at left back to everybodys delight, Gemmill-Pembridge centre midfield to MY delight but mostly to groans.  We mustve lost the toss because we kicked into the Street End first half.

We opened well and played some reasonable stuff for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Which means, given our propensity for leaking goals the minute the game phases flow against us, that we must score or pay the price.  The pattern is well known to all Blue Bellies.  So we got one just short of ten minutes when Idan was turned over just in the right-side penalty area and the thick referee, someone called Bennett, gave an indirect free kick.  At times like this you wonder which planet referees are from.  It didnt matter because the ball got touched right sideways to Idan and he hit a hard shot which a defender deflected sharp left in the opposite direction to their keepers movement.  One up and bright sunshine.  Nice.

It looked as though Idan was on a personal mission after his two bad misses at Sunderland seemed to cost him his place.  At any rate he was all over them like eczema and pissed off their left side defence no end.  Hed be in my team every time, but on the left, not right.

Then inevitably the flow went against us, mostly because Gemmo-Pembo could do hardly anything right in midfield and, same old story, got little or no help from anybody else.  Ten minutes later a neat move down their right caught our defence everywhere but the right place.  And there was Phillips just outside the right angle of the goal area, unmarked and all the time in the world to kill it to feet, turn, and bang in a ground cross shot.  Me, I was looking for Gary and Bally, both AWOL.  It was the goal of a natural striker though.  Phillips looks every inch the part.

With the flow against us, same old story, within a minute Paul had to make a superb save from a Mackem shot which had goal! written all over it. We groaned.  How many fucking times has it happened this season? It goes against us and we unravel like an old jumper.

But we kept plugging away more in hope than anything else.  Up front the SuperKev-Gravedigger combo was as useless as you would expect.  Their centre backs had an excellent game and didnt give solo SuperKev a sniff all afternoon.  I cant recall him winning a single header, havent seen him so ineffective.  Then a move similar to their goal gave Pembo a chance in the right side penalty area and he crashed it against the near post and then the half-time whistle went.  Oh well.

Half time, various trophies were dished out to the reserves and our young teams.  This mustve left some whiners grinding their teeth after all their stupid talk about our youth system.  Academy building or not, and it IS important, theyve pissed all over the oppositionand the whiners. Which makes it doubly satisfactory.  Nice one, lads, nice one.  Very well done.

Second half, another phase belonging to us and Tal STILL causing mayhem on the right.  Jaysus, he must be a little prick to play against in this form.  By this time the Mackems had brought on The Don in place of Arca The Killer Wail.  Half an hour later he did one of his Machete Specials on Unsy in the box, got sent off, and Bally sidefooted the penalty home to give us the lead.

Just as well really because by then Beloved Lard Arse was beating shit out of the turf in frustration.  Hed hit the left side cross bar with a trade mark free-kick and missed a penalty into the bargain.  But he had Determination written all over him.  The penalty came when Gary got into the box on the left wing and got bowled over.  Gives you some idea of the kind of pressure we were exerting by then.  I like Sunderland but I cant say they look that much better than usBetter organised, certainly.  Better passing, definitely.  But then, who isnt?

So theyre down to ten men and the odds are on us.  Oh aye yeh.  Ten minutes later they were level with the kind of goal that makes you want to go on to the pitch and strangle some fucker.  Anybody, it doesnt matter who.  Nor does the fact that it was another brilliantly taken effort from Phillips.  Fact is, the ball came over to our left mid-penalty area with three players (dont ask me who, I was too busy banging me head on the floor) plus Paul all in a position to do something about it.  They all looked at each other as Phillips smacked it through Paul at the near post.  I would have laughed if I hadnt been too busy crying.

After that, even with just ten men, there was only going to be one winner.  It wasnt us.  Phillips just missed the ball with a tremendous attempt at a penalty area edge bicycle kick.  Had he connected Ive no doubt it would have screamed in.

Then in the final minute referee Bennett excelled himself after six yellow cards to us and two to them.  So did Paul.  Stevie touch intercepted a Mackem through pass and it went to Paul.  No question in my mind it was a back pass, so Gerrard was supposed to boot it into Stanley Park lake, standard procedure.  He certainly had the time.  So he picked it up, daft bastard.  Indirect free kick from the edge of the box.  The wall lined up, like EVERYBODY, man.  The usual argey-bargey.  Bennett waited maybe thirty seconds and then moved the ball forward ten yards.  Oh this is fuck-ing ri-fucking-dic-u-lous.  Its on the edge of the goal area, our right side and everybody back on the line.  Phillips is taking it.  Well, its a goal isnt it.  Our seasons going out appropriately in a pantomime farce.

But wait.  The drama isnt over! All Phillips has to do is bang it hard and its in, no sweat.  But he shapes to take it.and half slips as he hits it.  Its still going in in slomo.  But someone gets a forehead on it and it zips over the bar and softshite Bennett blows the whistle for full time.  I tell you, people, you couldnt write the script.  Its one of the reasons we still watch The Beautiful Game.

And so endeth our season.  In truth, were glad to see the back of it.  It cant get much worse next season and if it does someones head is gonna roll before Crimbo.

By then we should know too whether weve been cheated out of the Kings Dock by the Suits.  Join the fight or join the whiners.  The choice is yours.

Me, I cant wait for next season.  And I LOVE a good scrap

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Another Bizarre Referee
Steve Bickerton
The end of a long hard season, with which I hadn't really got to grips, as a result of the multitude of interruptions for international weekends and cup absenteeism, finally arrived.  The fact that it came at the end of a week which had been one of the hardest to endure for a plethora of non-Everton reasons made it all the harder to face, with the spectre of more agony being piled on later.  But, cometh the hour and arriveth the man, as I took up my place in the Gwladys Street.  It made a change to see a full away section an opportunity to take some much needed revenue from a group of fanatical supporters.

The first half was punctuated by a series of hastily raised off-side flags and baffling decisions from the referee, who seemed hell bent on stopping any free-flowing football from Everton.  Of course, that's the view from behind my blue-tinted spectacles, but the sight of Quinn, all jumps into the defender, leading with the arm and not challenging for the ball, getting away, time and again, with the sort of challenge that sees one Duncan Ferguson regularly hauled up before the official in the centre for a stern talking to, or worse, is enough to fog the lenses even more completely. 

How can it be possible for such inconsistencies to occur?  Is it the referee not wishing to be seen as a "homer"?  Is it something about Goodison Park that affects referees in this way?  Or is it simply my paranoia and buy-in to the age old conspiracy theory?  The sort of luck that sticks like glue to our neighbours across the park, seems to slide away from us like silk across well shaved leg... sorry, I seem to be digressing.  Take the first goal.  Now I admit there was an element of luck about it as it as Idan Tal's shot finally found the net, but the build up was nothing short of comical.

Tal had taken control of the ball and flicked it up to beat his man, just inside the Sunderland box.  Kilbane came racing across the box and took out the slight midfielder, sending him sprawling.  The referee pointed for a free kick outside the box and booked Kilbane.  A "polite" enquiry from the Everton players saw the referee approach his assistant to take advice.  It then seemed that the free kick was inside the box after all a penalty!  

But no, the "clumsy" challenge which saw Kilbane booked, was nothing more than a flying obstruction and the free-kick was now indirect.  But not to be denied, a three-man set-piece involving Tal, Unsworth and Gemmill resulted in the ball nestling in the Sunderland net, having taken a deflection off the defensive wall justice was seen to be done and Tal, the victim of the piece, was on the score sheet.

But in true Everton fashion we decided to relinquish control and allowed Sunderland to dominate the first half.  That they equalised was no shock, though the manner of the goal was something of a disappointment.  Phillips was left free in the box, back to goal as a ball was played forward to him.  No danger as he had to be offside, but, no Steve Watson, loitering across the box played him on and from 10 yards Phillips stroked the ball past Gerrard.  Now, I admit to believing that there was a touch of hand involved in the control of the ball, but the referee didn't whistle so the goal stood.  Slack defending, both on the part of Watson and on our erstwhile hero, Michael Ball, who allowed the striker to get away from him.

Sunderland continued to control the half, with Everton showing some good movement in flashes (though few and far between) the most notable of which saw a terrific ball played into the box from Campbell, right into the path of Mark Pembridge, who swept the ball goalwards without breaking stride.  The Gwladys Street rose as one to celebrate the goal only to be thwarted as the ball struck the foot of the post, the keeper beaten and away to safety.

As the referee blew for half time, a 1-1 scoreline was an acceptable result given the pressure we'd been under but would we survive more of the same in the second half?

The half-time break, for once, was an entertaining affair as we paraded our season's silverware before the crowd.  There was the FA Premier Reserves League (Northern Section) trophy, won by a young side led by Andy Holden.  Then there was the U19 side, who'd won the Northwest Section of the FA U19 Academy League.  Plenty to crow about amongst our lesser lights, but sadly, where it matters, in the Premiership, we were coming up woefully short.

The second half started with Andy Holden taking his place in the dug-out alongside Smith & Knox.  I've not seen much of him recently, but Holden seems to have matured well as a coach, guiding the younger players to success.  His elevation to the first team coaching staff will hopefully bode well for the future and allow more of the youngsters to make the transition to the first team.  But that's the future, what of the now?

We seemed to come out of the traps like whippets for the second half, penning Sunderland back, in contrast to our approach to the first half.  In truth, we could have had a few goals but only one materialised.

The major opportunities both fell to the feet of David Unsworth.  For the first he was through on goal with nobody, save the keeper to beat.  He had to score.  Don Hutchison, on his return to Goodison, obviously hadn't read the script, as he dragged Rhino down from behind.  Last defender, off he went.  No argument. 

Rhino stepped up to take the penalty kick himself.  He placed it low and to the keeper's right, but it lacked any pace and the keeper pushed it wide.  Campbell, running away from goal collected the ball and laid it back to Gemmill, but he was closed down and the opportunity vanished.

Rhino's second opportunity came from a free kick, outside the box and to the right of the goal.  He struck the ball over the wall and saw it dip it had to make the corner of the net, but a finger tip save from the keeper saw it hit the bar and bounce to safety out of play.  The resultant goal kick was another of those perplexing Goodison moments.

Thankfully though we managed to make our one man advantage pay, as Naysmith drove forward into the Sunderland box.  An outstretched leg from a beaten defender was only going to have the one result and the referee again pointed to the spot.  This time it was Michael Ball who stepped up, though Idan Tal was all for having a go.  But Ball had none of it and with a nonchalant air stroked the ball into the net, sending the keeper the wrong way in the process.

After that the game was ours wasn't it?  We added Alexandersson to the fray along with Cadamarteri, as Tal and Gravesen departed the field of play.  Tal must wonder what he has to do to get a full 90 minutes as over the duration of the game he was the one who showed the most energy and the most commitment.  

Well, we pressed forward for a while, but we allowed Phillips to get loose again.  He controlled the ball in the box, swept passed the despairing lunge of Watson and from an acute angle beat Gerrard and Ball at the near post.  A catalogue of errors, poor marking, desperate tackling and a keeper who didn't know where his post was.  Oh yes, and a fearsome shot.  2-2.

That was when Sunderland regained their belief and we packed ours in a bag behind the goal.  We could have lost the game quite easily after that as we allowed Sunderland back into the game.  The final two minutes were a pantomime as Watson, again the villain of the piece, albeit unwittingly, made an excellent tackle to push the ball wide of Gerrard's right hand post for a corner.  Gerrard, decisive for a change, raced from goal and saved the corner by picking up the ball.  The referee blew for picking up a back pass.  

An indirect free kick was awarded just outside the six yard box.  The referee, was obviously unsure of the rule as he placed the ball almost at the point at which the tackle had been made, rather than at the point of the incident.  The Everton players were amazed and voiced their disbelief an danger to the referee.  Out came the yellow card and forward went the ball by 10 yards, dissent.  

We can be thankful that he'd misplaced the ball in the first place as the new position he allocated was inches from the six yard line.  The entire Everton team took to the line, Gerrard in front of them as the ball was played to Phillips, who tried to lob the ball over the wall.  But Watson was alive to the situation and managed to head the ball over the bar.  A few corners followed but, after more than the allotted additional 4 minutes, the referee blew for time and the game and the season was over.

The game had been a cameo of our season, much desperation, a lot of effort and promise, but in the end nothing much to show for it.  We finished in 16th place a drop of three from last year.  Injuries will be pointed to as a major factor in that.  But what of the team selections.  Against Sunderland Gravesen up front, with Alexandersson on the bench.  Was Niclas not fit enough to start or is Gravesen a better forward?  Too many unknowns this year for my liking, from the why's and wherefores of the tactics to the activity (or lack of it) in the boardroom.  A new(ly) open management team which succeeded in telling the fans very little of what was going on.  A bit like the team, promising so much at the start of the season, yet delivering so little.  But most of us will be back for more next year.

Fools. Money... Parted?  Maybe.

Man of the Match:  Nobody shone, but Idan Tal was the one who did the most to catch the eye.  Nevertheless, he probably wasn't the best on the field, on the day, but I can't say that anybody else deserved it more.

Bookings:  Another six, means another fine Gerrard, Ball, Weir, Watson, Tal, Gravesen and with three bookings and a sending-off for Sunderland you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a violent match.  Not a bit of it; it was generally played in a decent spirit.  Pity the referee couldn't see that.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Galling ending for also-rans
Trevor Haylett, Electronic Telegraph
WHAT A week for Everton.  Forced to suffer in the shadows as their red rivals blazed a trail of unprecedented success at home and abroad, they ended the season on a typically flat note.

Twice they proved unable to keep the lead.  They also missed a penalty and in the end, with Sunderland reduced to 10 men following Don Hutchison's sending-off, they had to be content with a point after Kevin Phillips scored his second of the day.

What is more, they almost lost it in injury time as Steve Watson headed Phillips's free kick off the line, though that would have been extreme cruelty given the folly of the refereeing decision.

The rollercoaster began early when an illegal challenge from Kevin Kilbane earned Everton an indirect free kick just inside the 18-yard area. They believed it should have been a penalty but still made it count when Idan Pal's shot took a deflection to beat keeper Thomas Sorensen.

Sunderland were not behind for long.  Phillips made amends for an earlier miss when a clever run and a splendidly flighted ball from Julio Arca gave him space to convert his 17th goal of the season.

Everton's initial purpose had long since disappeared and Sunderland almost made it two when Kilbane weaved his way deep into enemy territory only for keeper Paul Gerrard to make a fine stop.

Sunderland began the second half with more direction though Phillips spurned a great opportunity when Niall Quinn's glancing header sent him clear.  He delayed his shot, enabling Gerrard to save.  It was a reprise which Everton should have exploited 12 minutes later.

When Hutchison, a former Evertonian, felled David Unsworth from behind referee Steve Bennett produced a red card and pointed to the spot. Unsworth's penalty was poor and easily pushed away by Sorensen.

Michael Ball's successful penalty after Gary Naysmith had been brought down delivered some recompense and edged Everton back in front but seven minutes later Phillips equalised as Sunderland pursued, forlornly as it turned out, a UEFA Cup place.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Sunderland hold deserving Everton
by Peter Mitchell, The Sunday Times
TWO years ago, the champagne flowed on Wearside to celebrate annihilating the rest of the First Division.  Had Sunderland, a notoriously yo-yo team, been offered two seventh place Premiership finishes they would have gladly accepted.  But at the end of a second consecutive season which has slid into decline since the turn of the year, they are again reflecting on what might have been.  The events at Maine Road rendered this entertaining draw meaningless.  Peter Reid's side were denied the top-six finish their Christmas placing of second simply demanded.  Had Kevin Phillips not seen a stoppage time free kick from eight yards, awarded after Paul Gerrard had picked up a back pass, cleared off the line by ex-Newcastle defender Steve Watson, the Sunderland striker would be celebrating a hat-trick after twice equalising in the 21st and 83rd minutes to underline his England claims.

Iden Tal's deflected free kick had opened the scoring early on and Michael Ball's penalty restored Everton's lead 14 minutes from time.  Shortly before, Thomas Sorensen saved David Unsworth's spot kick after the defender was felled by substitute Don Hutchison.  The Everton old boy was ordered off.

The visitors failed to be hampered by their numerical disadvantage in the last 15 minutes as the hosts were left hanging on in the final moments, leaving their manager Walter Smith to reflect: "We produced some wayward defending for both of their goals and if you concede ones like that then you don't deserve anything better than a draw."

His Sunderland counterpart Reid, whose side matched their points total for last season, said: "It was quite lively for an end- of-season game but when you have a player like Kevin Phillips in your side you always have a chance.  Some so-called experts tell me he's had a bad season but they can't know anything about the game because Kevin showed again today what a quality striker he is."

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Everton settle for safety and stability
by Oliver Kay, The Times
SOME headed quietly for the exits, some stayed on long enough to witness an embarrassing lap of honour and a handful decided to aim their vitriol at the manager.  We want Smith out, a couple of joyless souls chanted as a second equaliser from Kevin Phillips ensured that Evertons miserable season failed to end on a note of optimism.  The protesters were politely told to sit down, and sit down they did.  Many put forward a case for the removal of Walter Smith, but few believe this would actually make things better.  Sacking the board is usually a good alternative, but who would be willing to take on a club with debts of 25 million? Under the arduous conditions Smith has endured this season, to finish eights points clear of relegation is no disgrace.  Im not the most brilliant manager, but I think Im steady enough, he said.  This club needs stability, something it hasnt had for a long time.  I have a contract and I intend to honour it. He has the backing of Bill Kenwright, the deputy chairman, who said: People knock the manager, but he has come through a terrible time this season.  He knows the situation here, where money is tight, but hes a proud man and he wants to get it right.

There were brief signs of promise on Saturday, but the class of Phillips underlined the difference between the sides.  He equalised with a sharp turn and low shot in the 22nd minute after Idan Tal had put Everton ahead with a deflected free kick and it was the same story in the second half.

Michael Ball re-established the home lead with a second penalty David Unsworths earlier attempt was saved after Don Hutchison had been sent off for a professional foul and Phillips then scored with another fine effort in the 83rd minute, but even victory would ultimately have proved insufficient for Sunderland in their pursuit of a place in the Uefa Cup.  Weve finished with the same points as last year, which shows were now an established Premiership side, Peter Reid, the Sunderland manager, said. What we need now is to push on from there and that, as we know, is the difficult part.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd
   Up to Reports Index ]

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