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Bolton Wanderers 2-0 Everton

By Lyndon Lloyd :  14/02/2011 :  Comments (12) :

From the never-say-die fightback against Blackpool to abject surrender against Bolton, it's hard to know which Everton will turn up these days. A performance as bad ? arguably worse ? as any served up to date this season got the result it deserved at the Reebok Stadium as David Moyes's Blues went down without a fight to a 2-0 defeat.

Yes, this was a changed line-up from the one that started last weekend but this horror show went far beyond the loss of the on-fire Louis Saha or the increasingly settled Jack Rodwell. This was a collective failure on an angering scale, one bereft by the end of any real desire or spirit and as the flurries of infighting between some of the players emerged on the pitch, the fixed glare of resignation on the countenance of the manager perhaps said it all. Things are very wrong at Goodison Park and on this evidence they're likely to get a lot worse.

From the outset, things didn't bode all that well for Everton. Presumably planning to match Bolton's physical presence at the back, Moyes opted to deploy Victor Anichebe as the lone striker in Saha's absence ahead of the returning Tim Cahill. But it became apparent very quickly that the home defence was going to lap up everything thrown at them in the air and that the Blues would have been far better served trying to open then up on the ground.

Unfortunately, exacerbated by a shortage of confidence, that has been a big problem for this team all season long and it was telling that they managed just two shots on target all game. One came from Mikel Arteta late in the first half, the other came from substitute Jose Baxter as equally belatedely in the second. Otherwise, Everton's best chance of the game fell to Tim Cahill after 16 minutes from one of the few crosses that threatened to open Bolton up but he couldn't steer the ball home and the ball bounced a couple of feet wide of Jussi Jaaskeleinen's left-hand post.

Had that chance been converted, it would have leveled the scores and the game might have been very different because though they'd conceded a sloppy goal seven minutes earlier, the Blues were arguably the better side in the early going despite the fact that an over-reliance on the long ball meant that they were making little headway against a resolute Bolton rearguard.

By contrast, Owen Coyle's men scored with their first meaningful ball in the box, albeit from a free kick that should never been awarded in a month of Sundays. Paul Robinson appeared to impede Anichebe as the two challenged for the ball on the Bolton left but the Everton striker was penalised for reasons known only to referr Lee Probert who amply demonstrated that he's not getting any better with experience.

The free kick was swung in towards the six-yard box, Gary Cahill easily lost his namesake Tim to meet the flight of the ball and headed the Trotters into the lead off the arm of John Heitinga. 1-0 to Bolton but plenty of time for Everton to get back into it.

Their first opportunity was a carbon copy of the set piece that Bolton converted just two minutes previously but Leighton Baines' free kick was too low and easily cleared and after Cahill had knocked his good chance wide, the Blues wouldn't create another scoring chance until four minutes before the break when Arteta finally took up the invitation to have a shot but his curling effort was caught by the 'keeper.

That was followed by a terrific counter-attack opportunity and some impressive awareness by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov to sweep the ball on to Seamus Coleman but the Irishman's first touch got away from him and so dod the chance. He almost atoned for his sloppiness in first-half injury time, though, but his left-footed cross-cum-shot flashed across the face of goal in front of Anichebe and Cahill.

The second half kicked off with no obvious sign of anything having been changed by Moyes and the fact that nothing happened worth describing between the restart and his first substitutions on the hour mark told it's own story. Everton were creating absolutely nothing. Arteta was busy but not able to inspire much, Marouane Fellaini could barely find a Blue shirt all afternoon, Coleman betrayed signs of a hangover from his international exploits for Ireland, Bilyaletdinov looked every bit the clumsy and error-prone player whose ability to make it in the Premier League has looked so questionable, and Cahill was well shackled by Bolton, though he did try with a turn and shot from the edge of the box in the 62nd minute but his shot ballooned over.

Five minutes after that, Bolton doubled their lead and killed the game. Another ball lofted into the box wasn't dealt with, Gary Cahill out-muscling Heitinga and Lee beating Baines to the bounce with a header that dropped to Daniel Sturridge and the on-loan striker finished well with a crisp shot inside the far post.

There was plenty of time left but any fight Everton had had ? which wasn't much ? was draining away fast, exemplified in the shocking body language of Anichebe whose infamous petulance raised its head as he wandered around the pitch in a sulk before being hauled off by Moyes with 12 minutes to go. Hopefully that will be the last time he ever pulls on the Royal Blue Jersey but the manager's striking options being as slim as they are, we're probably stuck with the miserable sod until at least the end of the season.

Anichebe's replacement, Baxter, at least showed some effort and pride while around him players were bellowing at each other for not reading their minds and Moyes sat stone-faced and dejected in the dugout with no one, not even Steve Round sat within five seats of him. After Holden had had what television replays would prove was a perfectly good goal disallowed, Baxter forced the only real save Jaaskeleined had to make in the entire 90 minutes with a smart turn and low shot with eight minutes to go.

But it was the last time the visitors would show any sign of threatening the Bolton goal and it was Tim Howard at the other end who had be alert as first a fizzing effort by Johann Elmander flew past his post and then a curled shot by Sturridge narrowly missed on the other side of the goal in the closing stages.

Any optimism that was generated by the rollercoaster victory over Blackpool was emphatically washed away by a horrendous display today, one that casts grave doubts on this team's ability to ever compete in the right half of the table again without an injection of new talent, a serious attitude adjustment, and some fresh ideas from the management.

The fact that fault lines started to appear in the relationships between the players and that Moyes's posture by the end was one of an utterly defeated and helpless man is a major cause for concern because with just three points separating Everton from the relegation zone ? not to mention a crucial FA Cup replay coming up next weekend ? this is not the time for the team to start falling apart at the seams.

Moyes has lots of work to do but perhaps for the first time it's valid to question whether he has the stomach for it. Admittedly he seemed to have gathered his thoughts and shed some of that dejection by the time of his post-match interview with the BBC but his demeanour in the last quarter of the game was revealing and he pulled no punches in other quotes after the game. Next Saturday at Stamford Bridge will be a massive test of his team's character...

Player Ratings: Howard 5, Neville 5, Heitinga 5, Distin 6, Baines 6, Coleman 5 (Beckford 6), Arteta 6*, Fellaini 5, Bilyaletdinov 5 (Osman 5), Cahill 6, Anichebe 4 (Baxter 7)

Reader Comments

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Dermot Ryan
1   Posted 14/02/2011 at 07:40:37

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We're just not that good.
Kevin Jones
2   Posted 14/02/2011 at 08:20:23

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Every thread you read on here says the same thing, why did Anichebe start? Well David Moyes answered that question in his radio interview after the game.

When asked why he picked Victor ahead of Beckford, he said "Because we knew we'd need a bit of height in OUR box at corners and free kicks". So now we know, Moyes picks his strikers on how good they are at defending corners and free kicks, fucking pathetic.

Once again, we where getting beat yesterday and Moyes spent the last 15 minutes in his chair with a face like a well smacked arse. Up to now I've refrained from calling for Moyes's head, but after that pile of shite yesterday something has to give.

Has nobody on the coaching staff got the balls to stand up to Moyes and say, "Look Dave Vic's not good enough, full stop"?

As for the fans booing the poor fucker, get a grip. He doesn't pick himself does he, Moyes is the one who needs to be demonished for picking the lad in the first place.

God help us for the rest of the season.

Guy Hastings
3   Posted 14/02/2011 at 09:08:43

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When asked why he picked Victor ahead of Beckford he said "Because we knew we'd need a bit of height in OUR box at corners and free kicks".

Anichebe 6'1", Beckford 6'2"
Dave Lynch
4   Posted 14/02/2011 at 09:12:01

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It's Monday.
I'm in work and a few fucking kopites are sniggering and throwing sly remarks my way.

It's a wonderful life.
Steve Guy
5   Posted 14/02/2011 at 12:49:21

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Anichebe summed up his attitude at one point by thumping the floor in petulant frustration at being fouled. It's what you expect from a two year old. It showed a lack of maturity and a lack of class, two things we don't need in our team at the moment. Such a shame as the early promise of those goals in Europe never seems to have been fulfilled; injury or no injury. However, I agree with those who say he doesn't pick himself and he didn't award himself a new 4 year deal either (one can only hope though that it is a prelude to getting decent money for him in the Summer). The management team at the Club did the latter presumably with Moyes acquiescence and Moyes did the former all by himself.

Moyes has to decide if he has lost the dressing room; there are ominous signs that he has. It will take a herculean effort to get a bunch of petulant young men back on side if he has lost them and you also have to question whether he wants to, or is capable. If he has lost them he needs to go now and we need to re-group and just get over the line safely in May.

I was listening to Talksport this morning. I don't usually bother as they can't seem to debate anything beyond the Big Four and the RS. However, I happened to be driving about and Peter Reid was on, following a host of calls to the breakfast show by irate Evertonians. He questioned the players' attitude and commitment and raised doubts as to whether some of those players would be there at the start of next season; or Moyes for that matter. This followed on for me from an article in the News of the World yesterday by Andy Dunn, which suggested that Everton are becoming a ball and chain to Moyes' ambitions. It was a good balanced article and threw justified criticism at Kenwright for a failure to support the manager in recent times. There seems to be a media momentum building, to match that of the fan's increasing disgruntlement, which must be nipped in the bud by Kenwright and Moyes, or this will only end badly.
Tommy Coleman
6   Posted 14/02/2011 at 13:18:35

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"When asked why he picked Victor ahead of Beckford he said 'Because we knew we'd need a bit of height in OUR box at corners and free kicks'. "

Absolutely amazing.

This defeatist logic is the reason why he has never won anything.
Mike Hughes
7   Posted 14/02/2011 at 13:41:25

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#5 Steve Guy ? you make a good point about losing the dressing room and I have a bad feeling he has.

We just have to crawl over the finish line and safety now. That is all this season is for me ? desperate survival.

Sort the mess out in the summer one way or another but just survive now. This is far more important than any "paper over the cracks" cup run.
Jay Harris
8   Posted 14/02/2011 at 13:32:36

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I dont know why Anichebe is being picked out for abuse.

The whole team was disgraceful.

No desire, no spirit and no heart.

IMO it resembles a business where all the workers have been told it's gone bankrupt and there will be no future.

It seems that Moyes and the players have been sapped of desire.

Before anyone replies to say look at what they are being paid, I agree but it's a mental thing and they seem to have lost it totally.

Thomas James
9   Posted 14/02/2011 at 14:43:19

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Moyes is qoute in the press today (BBC Website) moaning on about this being one of the worst performances while at Everton.

That just is not true, we have put up with a lot of rubbish from this squad of players ? to cite three examples:

This season West Brom 4 - 1 @ Goodison.

The FA Cup Final - poor poor display.

Arsenal 6 - 1 last season

The sooner he (someone else) breaks up this squad of overpaid crap to reduce our debt the better. Clauses should be added to contracts that players only get a portion based on performance... and the fans' vote. Similar to that of a salesman, he is paid on performance.

Trevor Lynes
10   Posted 14/02/2011 at 19:36:34

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I agree with Jay #8....Anichebe is being singled out for the treatment just as Hibbert and Osman have in the past...The whole team played below par...some worse than others...but we seem to single out individuals all the one player could make that much of a difference to a teams display and I do not believe that ANY striker in the premier or anywhere else would have done much better...the only chance we had in the match came from the left and Cahill missed it....Anichebe is a target man and not a striker...he needs someone up with him and no one tried to latch on to any header he won.
Only Saha has the ball control of a premier league striker in our squad, but he is getting past it and is injury prone....if Saha was at any other club he would be used as Spurs use Ledley Sparingly.
We cannot as we have a small squad with very few alternatives...we cannot rotate or rest anyone.
When players are injured they come straight back on to the bench without reserve matches to sharpen them up.
Osman was very slow and palpably lacking in match practice when he came on.
We are not being run professionally or coached professionally.
DM is like Old Mother Hubbard !!!!!
David Hallwood
11   Posted 14/02/2011 at 20:48:32

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Jay & Trevor #8&10, I've been watching Everton for longer than I care to remember and I''ve seen some dross probably some even less talented than Anichebe, but I've never seen such a bad, petulant childish atttitude from a footballer. Contrast him with Kevin Davies, not the most skillful footballer, but his work rate and desire can only be admired-and he's 10 years older than the mothercare kid, it was a pig of a day and he never stopped running and closing down, so I take issue with Lyndon's 4/10 rating, where did the 4 come from.

But without a doubt he wasn't helped by gormless hoofball, to Bolton FFS and in the 1st half Cahill & before he went off, Knight were saying 'thank you very much' as they won hoofball after hoofball. A horror show, and can it get any worse; sadly the answers yes

Jamie Crowley
12   Posted 15/02/2011 at 01:16:48

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Trevor and Jay -

Anichebe was so bad yesterday it simply defies explanation in any way. To ask aloud, "why's the poor boy getting picked on" frankly is weak.

The man was utter shit. I certainly don't mind anyone with sub-par skill giving it their all - effort is the key.

That boy was devoid of effort yesterday. I honestly do no think he gave 100% - I truly don't. Couple that with his utter embarrasing tantrums and caring more to toss his arms out wide parallel to the ground in that "WTF?" way of his instead of actually PLAYING....

He was an embarrasment to the Club and the supporters. Men who act like that are not fit to be players in "my" Everton.

I sincerely hope that kid is shipped out as soon as possible. I don't care what he does from this point forward.

Utterly embarrasing. Fucking brat.

I understand the "get behind the players" battle cry - but I will never cheer that boy.

Please give me 100 Cahills having a horrible day like Tim did yesterday. I'm proud that man puts the jersey on by the way he plays, the effort he brings, and the attitude he espouses.

Please fuck off every Anichebe who ever thinks they can play for this truly great Club.

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