Well, here we are. The last home game of the season and, impossibly, it's a sell-out as the long-suffering Goodison faithful show up in droves to see out this disappointing season with nothing to play for except pride... and maybe a couple of Premiership places (I'm not going to mention the reward money available for every place gained this time because it seems the players don't care — and why would they; money for players means competition for places!).
The boys will be sporting the new 2004/05 home strip which does away with the retro collar of last season and steers clear of the strange square neck of the "100 Seasons" kit of two years ago. Pleasingly, we're back in white socks. Presumably tomorrow will be the last time we see Kejian on the front of the Royal Blue jersey as their sponsorship deal is up this summer.
Safety may be assured but David Moyes is keen to win both remaining games and end the season on a high, something the Blues haven't done since missing out on UEFA Cup qualification by 7 minutes 1995/ 96.
He is unlikely, therefore, to be too cavalier, but it would be a major surprise if Leon Osman wasn't handed his home debut after scoring on his first senior start last week. Thomas Gravesen and Kevin Kilbane are out of contention and Lee Carsley's display at Molineux might have ruled him out as well, leaving a toss-up between Alex Nyarko and Tobias Linderoth if Steve Watson is passed fit.
James McFadden will likely start on the left again, with Radzinski and Rooney up front. At the back, Alan Stubbs could play some part after recovering from a lengthy spell on the sidelines if he can displace David Weir, but Gary Naysmith has undergone surgery on his troublesome groin and will not feature again this season.
Bolton come to Goodison fresh from a 4-1 victory over Leeds United that condemned the Yorkshiremen to the Nationwide League and preserved Everton's top flight status. They can also do the "double" over the Blues following that horrendous display by Moyes's men at The Reebok in the reverse fixture.
If that wasn't enough incentive for them, the Trotters are also chasing their highest league placing for 44 years despite being favoured for the drop this season.
So, with nothing really at stake (oh, please can't I mention the Premiership prize money?) this one will be all about whether or not the players care enough about the crap that the fans have had to endure this season to finish the home league programme off in style.
I imagine we'll know by 6pm on Saturday.
First half (in spells) we did pass it around quite neatly and
tidily though we failed to create any real gilt-edged chances — more
half-chances that could have come to something; similar in the
second half really. It did bring a bit of cheer to see a group
of young Everton players playing it around with good passing; it was
just a cutting edge we were lacking.
There didn't look to be that much between the teams in all
honesty — despite our respective placings. Bolton did have
more of an edge when on the attack; it is something that will have
to be learned and improved on — but hey, what's new there?!
We all know Yobo needs a strong centre-half leader alongside him
and frankly the defending for their first goal was awful — all too
typical of some of our defensive calamaties this season — with
Djorkaeff dancing through to slot home. It's one thing not to
want to concede penalties but that doesn't mean you let the
opposition waltz through without a hint of a challenge.
Hibbert was let down a couple of occasions by his crossing, but
he made some timely interventions and good tackles for the most
Pistone was also guilty of quite a few misdirected headers and
passes and, pilloried though he is by some, Naysmith and Kilbane had
built up a decent understanding between them down the left side —
something Pistone and McFadden obviously haven't had time to work on
— so that side was a bit more disjointed than in other performances
Watson had one of his poorer games for us today: too often caught
out drifting into the middle, leaving the right midfield and then
Hibbert exposed time after time. Though he does work hard, the
fact is he isn't good enough anymore. Like Carsley, he now
stands as a beacon of Walter's era — both look too slow and
cumbersome against swift midfields that move the ball forward, and
they inevitably slow down our attacks as well. Solid he may be
but Watson is not the player for us in the right midfield berth.
Next to him in the first half we had three other midfielders who
did look to play and do something constructive when they had the
ball at least. Where we have failed time and again this season
is getting midfielders past our forwards into the opposition penalty
area whenever the chance arises. Today we had two players
there in McFadden and Osman, who will probably go on to do this role
for us, hopefully, but the need for the infamous steel in the middle
was again shown today.
Nyarko didn't do that badly overall, and does look to play a
decent ball when possible, but today was a day when the pros and
cons of Nyarko were demonstrated in equal measure. Decent
passer but not someone who is going to drive forward or get really
stuck in when it's needed.
McFadden did well at different times of the game but does need to
look up more and search out other options rather than hanging onto
the ball. At least he does look likely to create or do
something on the ball when he has it. I think his game would
be improved or his options improved at least by another midfielder
making surging runs into the area. Faddy did show a good
example of vision when he sent a long ball down the left for Radz to
chase and beat their keeper to, but he toe-poked it wide when he
should really have done better from the position though it was a
Upfront frankly Ferguson was a waste of time today — he didn't
make too many efforts to really win the ball either aerially or on
the deck and every pass was backwards; never forwards or really
constructive. As ever, he was straight off at the whistle and
I'm not sure if he was out again for the players circuit of the
ground (lap of honour just doesn't seem appropriate really!).
Ferguson certainly didn't deserve to be the one to score our last
home goal of the season — shame that honour didn't befall Martyn
when he went up for the corner in injury time!
Rooney had one of his in-and-out games and ended up getting
frustrated at times, sometimes at the wrong person too. On one
occasion, he blasted McFadden for not passing to him when everyone
in the ground could see Rooney was marked heavily by two Bolton
players and was not an option. Strange to see him dropped back
virtually onto the defence in the second half and a lot were
mystified by that — but how many times have people moaned about
Moyes not doing different things or trying different options?
And then moaned their collective arses off when he does and they
don't work out?
Spare a separate word for Osman who probably deserved Man of the
Match for taking his opportunity to give a decent showing. He
rarely gave the ball away and when he did he didn't hide and looked
to get it back straight away. And he was always looking to
make something happen on the ball, like last week with the ball
through to Rooney which led to the *ahem* challenge on Paul Jones.
He, like McFadden, would benefit hugely from having players surge on
into the area ahead of him.
Osman was Unlucky with a couple of strikes and certainly worth
looking at more regularly. One person behind made the obvious
comment about his height and then of course at half time on came
Alan Ball as part of the greatest ever team to a rapturous reception
— funny how his lack of height wasn't an issue? Not that Osman
is his playing equal or anything but if he's good enough does it
really matter? He certainly didn't look out of place at all
and hopefully we'll get a better chance to see what he can do next
season — may be a possibility of trying him on the right wing??
It's not often you see people applauding players round on an end
of season lap whilst booing at the same time... which some did.
Moyes looked irate on the pitch — and rightly so — pretty much
summing up everyone's mood on in the ground. Having seen those
post-match comments that is about as spot on and straightforward as
anyone can put it. It's time he was backed so he can get his
own team here and we can finally see if he is our saviour. For the
little it's worth, I still have faith in the guy; we won't find
better and we have to do as much as we can to get where he wants us
to be... or at least where he can take us.
Moyes In — Board Out!
I bought my ticket then a spare one emerged the next day. Bloody
great! Could have saved my money and watched that crap for free. Nevertheless, the spare was there so thought I’d take a mate of mine
(from Bolton) along to experience Goodison Park. Well I don’t think he’ll be coming back for a while! A very poor
performance yesterday in what really should have been the third win
in a row, but instead it’s quite the opposite.
The drive down the M62 was drizzly, and we were in the pub
watching Man Utd while a load of Bolton hooligans sung racist songs
about the origin of Ryan Giggs's father (?). The rest turned up. Most of the chat was about the hike in prices
for the coming season. Not being a season ticket holder anymore I
guess it doesn’t affect me as much as others, but the general
feeling was: We're not happy!
So it was on to the match and we turned up just as they were kicking
off. The blues were all shirted up in their new kits. Surprised but
glad to see Ferguson starting; otherwise it was just as you were
pretty much, with McFadden slotting in on the left.
We started relatively brightly, Ferguson being the main threat,
but slipping at the vital moment with one good chance and fizzing a 25
yard effort high and wide.
It didn’t take long for Bolton to settle, though. And while Martyn
never really had much to do, Bolton were the better side for most of
this one. Their goal coming quite early with I think Okocha
(class!!!) slipping in Djorkaef who beat Hibbert, Weir couldn’t get
the ball and with Martyn grounded it was well, and inevitably tucked
in by the Frenchman. “Get goal Side Hibbert” and “Your shite you
Hibbert” reverberated around me. Felt quite sorry for Hibbert as he
trudged forward after that to restart. Why has he become some
people’s whipping boy?
Bolton took control from there for the first half, with Everton
doing very little. It was the kids who shone for me: McFadden
with some fantastic dribbling and Osman trying his earnest in the
middle. Yobo was class at the back also. It’s unbelievable to think
he’s the same age as Hibbert. But Everton didn’t take the game back
to Bolton and didn’t make life hard for them whatsoever. I remember
one incident when Pistone had loads of time but still let the ball
bounce. Still had loads of time and headed it out of play. Rubbish!
This seemed to ignite a lot of tension and you could see it in
the players as they tried to battle to no avail. Nobody seemed to
want the ball to come towards them and you could see why in the
cauldron. It really was tense.
I couldn’t wait ‘til half time and what a relief. It was pleasing to
see the legends on the pitch at half time. A bloke nearby said to
stick on Sheedy, ball, Reid and Stevens now and they do a better
job. I don’t think he was wrong.
Second half and two changes at the break: Carsley on for the
injured Pistone (really!) and Radzinski on for Nyarko. I think we
needed Radz on. This meant that Rooney was deep into midfield and
Watson reverted to left back. Not ideal but Moyes limited with
options due to his injury list.
Much better in the second half and Carsley twice came close
inside the box, but that was about it from Lee. He looks like a player
lost with confidence shattered, and nobody wanting to give him the
ball. Needs pre-season methinks; either that or a transfer. After
that Ferguson’s knock down found Osman on the volley who snatched at
it a little and the ball fizzed wide.
The game then went a bit
scrappy and niggly before a slice of fortune came our way for a
change. Some fella tried to take throw for Bolton. He completely
spooned it up however and the ball bounced about a yard in front of
him onto the pitch. It should have been a foul throw and our throw-in. Instead, the ref let him have another whirl. This time he pretty
much threw it straight to us. The ball was played to Dunc who,
instead of turning on the half way line and running forward, played
it backward to Rooney. The crowd moaned at Dunc while the ball got
played to McFadden who made a great run down the wing and crossed it
in. Osman touched it and Ferguson slid in to tuck it home. Queue
chants of “Duncan, Duncan Ferguson”. Oh the fickle the football fan!
So it was game on. We came at Bolton then and a sweeping move
from Radzinski made a Bolton defender tackle-pass it back to the
keeper who picked it up at round about the six-yard box. Now
surely the free kick should have been at that spot — not 15 yards out!
Anyway Rooney hit it, it was blocked and we couldn’t force the
follow up in. Radzinski then beat the keeper but could only find
The game gradually petered out with Bolton taking the sting out of
it, and you always sensed they’d bloody score. No surprise when Djorkaef slotted it in after fairly poor defending and with two
minutes to go, Bolton were back in front. Moyes threw Campbell on
for the final fling but it was to no avail and we couldn’t get the
goal despite a few corners and some aerial bombardment.
whistle was greeted by boo’s and Ferguson as always legged it
straight off. The team did a fairly pathetic attempt of a lap of honour and I’m intrigued to know what was said to Dunc in the
dressing room to make him come sprinting back on and join them.
Probably something like ‘Get back out there or you sacked, club
captain” Moyes got a fantastic reception and looked very embarrassed
as he lead his sorry looking players round the pitch. The crowd
sang, “Sack the board”. Not quite the answer right now, no, but can
very clearly understand everyone’s frustration. Radzinski gave a big
clap and a thumbs up the the Lower Gwladys. Was that goodbye?
Well that’s it for another season. Can’t wait for the next one! I
think Division 1 is calling Everton’s name out loud...
- Martyn: Little to do but did it well. Brilliant.
- Pistone: Get lost you waste of space. Injured and
disinterested again. 4
- Yobo: Absolutely superb. There’s a lot of talk
about “what if we sell Rooney”, but what if we sell Yobo?
There’ll be a big hole in the defence. 8
- Weir: Usual Weir; just a little rusty. 6
- Hibbert: Made some good tackles but crap distribution
and was at fault for their first goal. 6
- McFadden: My man of the match. A constant threat.
Reckon he’s got a big season ahead of him. 8
- Nyarko: Another one who I’d like to see the back of.
Will never fulfil his potential in a blue shirt. 5
- Osman: tried hard and worked hard and did quite well.
Not easy for him but played as well if not better than most. 6
- Watson: Usual Steve, and did well when slotting in at
left back. 7
- Ferguson: Statuesque and made little impact despite the
- Rooney: Forced to drop deep in the second half.
Did alright. Seen him play better. Could be superb in a good
team. Unfortu8nately were not. 6
- Carsley: Looks lost. 5
- Radzinski: Please stay. 7
- Campbell: Thanx, but I think it’s the end. 6
Til next time...
Here in my pocket...
Here in my pocket I've got the story of the Blues...
of you old enough to remember Pete Wylie and the Mighty Wah from the
early 80s will know the reference (if not, go to
and click on Lyrics...). Well, yesterday was the story of the
season in a nutshell. Good in parts, poor in others; enough chances
to have won the game before the sucker punch of a late goal.
The team selection was interesting — though with the recent
injuries, to be fair Moyes didn't have too many options. The most
interesting choice was in midfield with Osman starting in the middle
alongside the Nark; Watson and McFadden out wide. Up-front:
Duncan and Rooney, with Radz on the bench.
For the first 10 minutes we played some really good, tight passing
football (including one great move that saw Dunc flash the ball
inches wide from a great Rooney cross) which was completely undone
by some shocking defending. Djorkaeff got the ball in the box over
on the left with Weir, Hibbert and Watson around him. Someone
tackled him (Hibbert I think), he appeared to lose the ball then
suddenly he reappeared in front of Martyn and toe-poked it past him. Story of the season...
The remainder of the half, we just didn't play. OK, Bolton had
five in midfield (including Okocha, Campo and Djorkaeff) against our
non-tackling four but we didn't really compete — story of the
season.... With "the best midfielder in Europe" out injured, no-one
was doing any tackling so we were pretty much overrun for the rest
of the half.
About 30 mins in to the game, Pistone went down in a heap (story
of the season...) just in front of the Bullens (and with a loud,
audible cry). After 2-3 mins of treatment he carried on but, for the
rest of the half, showed absolutely no interest in being there. He
clearly thought he should have gone off but with no obvious option
of who to fill in at left back, he had to stay on. So for 15 mins he avoided
the ball like the plague, didn't tackle anyone; in fact we'd
probably have been better off with 10 men for that period.
Cue half-time and some positive action from Moyes. Pist-off
Pistone and the Nark were off; Radzinski and Carsley came on. Watson went to
left-back; Rooney dropped back into a midfield three with Dunc, Radz
and McFadden a front three. At last, we began to play again.
and Osman began to run the midfield (it was now effectively three
versus five) and Radz began running at them from wide right.
Chances started to come our way: Radz hit the post from an acute
angle; McFadden had two great runs down the left and should have
crossed to any one of Dunc, Radz and Osman to finish but didn't; Radz
had another half-chance wide out left when he rounded the keeper but
hit the side netting from an acute angle.
Eventually, Rooney won the
ball in midfield, fed Radz with yet another inch-perfect long pass,
he ran hard at the defence, slipped it inside to Osman who had
appeared in the box, his shot was blocked to Dunc who finished with
More chances to win it as we carried on playing good football but
nothing to show for it — then the killer blow. Three minutes from
the end, Simon Charlton crosses from the left, no danger at all in
the box, then suddenly Djorkaeff appears again from nowhere and
glances the ball past Martyn again with David Weir doing a passable
impression of a statue. The final story of such a disappointing
Campbell was thrown on for the last 3 minutes to no effect and
the last home game of the season was over, another poor performance. Train timetables dictated that I couldn't stay for the parade
honestly, I wonder how many others bothered. Actually, I wonder how
many of the players were too embarrased to turn up...
- Martyn - 6 - had little to do, Bolton had no chances and took two
- Hibbert - 6 - I thought he played really well today,
defensively he was very solid, a couple of dodgy crosses apart.
- Pistone - 4 - Can't say much more. He's just too injury prone and
won't play through any sort of pain barrier.
- Weir - 4 - A shadow of
his former self. He looks like Campbell - the brain knows what to do
but the legs can't get there.
- Yobo - 6 - His usual accomplished
self. Needs a better partner tho'.
- Watson - 6 - did reasonably well
after being pressed into service at left back. Got forward a lot in
the 2nd half which he appears to prefer.
- Nyarko - 6 - did OK in the
first half but tackling is not his thing.
- Osman - 8 - Very impressed
with him. He got better as the game went on. Constantly looked for
the ball, got forward more in this game than Gravesen has done all
season. If the management think he hasn't got it, then questions
should be asked. Why hasn't he been involved more?
- McFadden - 7 -
played well in the 2nd half but was guilty of hanging onto the ball
when a good cross would have seen us score more goals.
- Rooney - 9 -
I thought he was a revelation in central midfield. He could be Paul Scholes re-incarnated (well, Scholes of 5 years ago). This is where
his ability really comes through — he can spray the ball around, he
looks for the ball and he can be aggressive when necessary.
- Ferguson - 7 - First game back for a while and looked a
little rusty. Took his goal well and managed not to get
- Carsley - 5 - anonymous for most of the time he was on. Linderoth
sitting in front of the defence would have been a better bet.
- Radzinski - 7 - ran his heart out and it was his run
that made the goal for Dunc.
So, what's the story of next season, then? I think the
following will/should still be around:
Hibbert, Yobo, Stubbs, Naysmith;
Linderoth, Osman, McFadden, Kilbane;
That's the basis of a decent, mid-table team. Look at the other
mid-table teams and it compares well. But it needs some fine tuning
and a lot of application to go with it.