Despite having a marathon of a day, Gaz picked me up at about 10.30am and with Ste heading straight to the game from Wycombe after a night on the ales down there, we headed straight to the pub...Gary and Sue, who both work for the Post Office, just about got through their rounds done in time to get to the pub for a drink also.

Given we were there pretty early the pub was rather quiet as Gaz and I had a drink. Some fella approached us asking if I wanted to do a quick interview on TV for BT Sport. Gaz talked me into it on my behalf and before I knew it I was thrust in front of a microphone with a couple of other fellas to ask my thoughts on Everton getting into the Europa League via the Fair Play League (I'm all for the Europa League for the record. We're hardly likely to gatecrash the Sky Four party are we? And who knows, maybe this seasons experiences in Europe might even help prepare us better). They recorded the interviews and then about 15 minutes later the interviews came on the TV in the pub on the Fletch & Sav show.

As we watched myself being interviewed on the TV, Ste walked into the pub and straight over to us puzzled. "What the fuck is going on here?" he demanded. Must have been a mad moment to walk into the pub. Just as I'd finished my drink a fella came over saying he'd brought one too many beers by mistake and gave me the spare one also...things were shaping up nicely.

The team was the same one which beat Manchester United 3-0 (why it was changed for the Aston Villa game I'm not sure). We just about made kick off and it was rather quiet in Goodison Park as the game kicked off amongst the grey clouds. Everton didn't exactly help create an atmosphere either with a sluggish start which gave little to get excited about, even though we did grow into the game.

Sunderland had their game plan. They defended gamely and hoped to grab something on the counter attack which, as we've seen this season, is a tactic which Everton struggle to figure out. This led to quite a stalemate of a first half with many a corner wasted by Everton. Leon Osman was central to the better things Everton did, curling wide with two efforts and nearly setting up Lukaku with a wonderful ball. The Belgian still had a lot to do, but could have done it better in my opinion.

So at half time it was all square, and if ever Everton were in need of inspiration it was right in front of them in the shape of Derek Mountfield, John Bailey, Pat Van Den Hauwe, Peter Reid, Graeme Sharp, Colin Harvey and Howard Kendall commemorating 30 years since the European Cup Winners Cup and League Championship double. Was great to see them gentlemen all in good form.

Unfortunately inspire this did not. We began the second half brightly and forced a series of corners, all of which threatened more than in the first half though unfortunately we couldn't break through. We continued to be the more prominent team though it remained difficult to break Sunderland down. They were snappy with the tackles whereas we, maybe with an eye on Europa League qualification, barely put a tackle in all game.

Without getting a goal we were of course always vulnerable, and so it showed on the counter attack when Sunderland broke and with our players seemingly ball watching a bit, a drive from Gomez deflected off Danny Graham and looped into the corner past Howard's outstretched arm. Against the run of play we found ourselves ridiculously a goal down.

Kevin Mirallas was introduced pretty quickly as Everton pressed. We had them under a lot of pressure at one point though Sunderland somehow withstood and survived. I'd had a pretty good day up until then with my 20 seconds of fame and free pint, and given I had a bet of 1-1 with Lennon last goal at 66-1, I wasn't too disappointed. Unfortunately for me, as the game carried on it seemed that if Everton were to grab a goal then Lennon perhaps wasn't the likely one to get it. We did come close with another relatively unlikely source when James McCarthy crashed his effort from distance against the post. This was about as close as we came though I thought we should have had at least one penalty when Coleman was upended at the back post from a Lukaku cross. Sunderland had survived a handball shout prior to that also though Lee Probert gave neither.

As Everton chased an equalizer Sunderland had other ideas and after John Stones lost possession trying to bring the ball out of defence, Sunderland broke. I thought there looked to be a foul then on Stones as he tried to recover inside the penalty area but no free kick was given and Sunderland eventually scored when Johnson's shot was deflected off Coleman and into the path of Defoe who scored easily.

We left shortly afterwards and missed the likely boos which greeted full time. I guess it wasn't to be my lucky day after all.

It was far from Everton's worst performance of the season but it was hardly convincing either. It's gotten tough to get motivated for games this season...hopefully we can bring that zest back to our play next season and make Goodison Park a fun place again.

Player ratings:
Howard: Fairly helpless with both goals though his command of his his penalty area is virtually non-existent. 6
Baines: Put in some poor corners and was eventually forced off with an ankle injury. Was also at fault for their first goal when he mis-timed his interception and Sunderland attacked. He never seemed right all game so if he was injured from the start I don't know why he was risked. Just speculation though of course. 5
Jagielka: Did quite well and took responsibility and tried to get forward where possible. 7
Stones: A bit suspect at the back at times and I think it was his error which eventually led to the second goal. Not bad otherwise though with little to do really. 6
Coleman: Looked woefully short on confidence first half though was much better in the second half and was one of our most threatening players. 6
Barry: Was having an OK game though was sacrificed as we changed formation when we went 0-1 down. 6
McCarthy: One of our better players and came closest to scoring. 6
Osman: My man of the match. Was probably our busiest player and did more than most to try and work something for us, albeit to no avail. 7
Lennon: Not his day unfortunately on his last Goodison outing. Is that the last we've seen of him in a blue shirt at Goodison Park? 5
Barkley: He had a good hour but then seemed to go haywire. Was obviously struggling mentally. Why Naismith didn't replace him I just don't know. 5
Lukaku: A threat when he got the ball though his movement wasn't very impressive. Need more from him than what he offered today, though he's not the only one playing withing himself as the season draws to a close. 5

Substitutes:
Mirallas (for Barry): Got involved initially and worked hard but his flame had flickered out by the time we left. 5
Garbutt (for Baines): Maybe he'll at least get one or two farewell games before his contract expires. He got into a few good positions but wasn't given the ball unfortunately. Perhaps a frustrating 20 minutes for him, culminating in a late yellow card also. 5
McGeady (for Lennon): I literally can't judge. He came on...and then we left.

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Reader Comments (13)

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Clive Rogers
1 Posted 09/05/2015 at 19:36:11
If Osman was man of the match, we really are in trouble. He was okay for 20 minutes, then was completely anonymous. He gave the ball away for the first goal. He is finished as a 90-minute player.
Andy Crooks
2 Posted 09/05/2015 at 20:17:57
Paul, I like your reports. WhatÂ’s the view of you and your pals on Martinez?
Phil Walling
3 Posted 09/05/2015 at 20:21:59
This seasonÂ’s dross is all down to the Europa League, apparently. First it was the Thursday/ Sunday playing cycle and now itÂ’s the need to avoid fouling so as to win another season in the completion that is apparently the cause of our difficulties.

Oh, I just remembered, the manager says Â’we understand whatÂ’s required of us now.Â’ So thatÂ’s alright then!

PS. Who keeps the keys to the madhouse now?

Patrick Murphy
4 Posted 09/05/2015 at 20:33:48
Phil - As you well know, there are no keys to this institution, itÂ’s an open house and people can come and go as they please, however, no matter where you may go the institution resides within you at all times.
Patrick Murphy
5 Posted 09/05/2015 at 20:42:45
Phil - You should also take a read of Greg OÂ’KeefeÂ’s five things we learned article on the Echo website. IÂ’m detecting a little more questioning of what is happening at Goodison from the EchoÂ’s sports department, not direct criticism of the manager but rather less sycophantic coverage of all things Martinez and a lot closer to the average supporters doubts and fears.

Dave Williams
6 Posted 09/05/2015 at 21:27:45
I agree Osman MotM. Ross was very poor – he goes one way then the other then passes it two yards sideways. Was it his sheer size against youth team players that made him stand out because I just can’t see it.

Lennon is worth no more than ٢m with only a year left on his contract. Lukaku backed out of at least two challenges where Andy Gray would have gone right through the goalie – unfair comparison maybe but Sunderland were too strong physically for us. James played well as did Seamus and Leighton, Jags tried very hard and the rest were very dull.

Colin Williams
7 Posted 09/05/2015 at 21:36:54
Osman – MotM?? Very good first half.. Missed a couple of chances. Second half, done fuck all except give lose the ball easily to start their attack for first goal. MotM... Absolute bollocks!!!
Danny Broderick
8 Posted 09/05/2015 at 22:49:36
Barkley and Lukaku were very poor. Lukaku played like his season has already finished. And Barkley has no end product whatsoever. Very few assists, very few goals. We cannot have a player who produces so little in our no. 10 position.

Our performance wasnÂ’t too bad. But we just havenÂ’t got a clue in the final third.

Derek Thomas
9 Posted 10/05/2015 at 01:08:07
Paul; leaving aside that the performance was abject surrender monkey bilge. That you say It was far from our worst performance must show everybody where we are... or, in our case, where we are not.

Q 1) Why, what are the causes and what needs to be done to stop the rot/? That is the real question.

Q 2) When will the powers that be do something about it?

Q 3) When will the fans start asking for answers out loud?

Q 4) Will anybody care if they do?

Paul Traill
10 Posted 10/05/2015 at 08:03:35
Andy @2. I think Martinez is a really good fella and have nothing against him personally. However, I never rated him at Wigan and donÂ’t really think heÂ’s up to the job.

I’d give him another chance next season though I don’t feel too confident about it. Our performances frustrate me and I’d love to give Eddie Hough a go if we could get him. My pals – Gary, Gaz and Ste – would all get rid immediately, I think. Not popular with any of us really.

Mike Childs
11 Posted 10/05/2015 at 19:08:21
Good report Paul happy for your 20 seconds of fame. The way some of these lads play they donÂ’t even deserve 20 seconds of fame.
Colin Smith
12 Posted 10/05/2015 at 21:11:51
Of EvertonÂ’s front 4 players only Osman made a meaningful contribution. I thought Coleman was our best attacker. BarkleyÂ’s confidence looks shot, will only shoot or take a man on if thereÂ’s no other option. Just wonder it would be worth playing him deeper next to McCarthy in the last 2 games
Andy Meighan
13 Posted 12/05/2015 at 17:48:30
WhoÂ’s Eddie Hough? Do you mean Eddie Howe? If you do, no thanks. We need a strong character now, not some 5-minute wonder.

And by the way, let's see if you think the same this time next season when Bournemouth will have been relegated before the end of March.

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