Everton 1 - 1 Southampton
“The players know they didn't perform today. They are well aware of the lack of performance they gave today in an Everton shirt at Goodison. They didn't pass the ball today very well to anybody.”
That was Sam Allardyce’s assessment of Everton’s 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion on the 20th of January. You would think that a manager on a £6m contract and his coaching staff might find a way of addressing those deficiencies over the ensuing three and a half months. But fast forward to the aftermath of today’s 1-1 draw with Southampton — pause on some of his comments after the poorer results in the interim as well to sharpen the picture — and not much has changed; he is saying essentially the same thing now as then.
Taken together with his complaints about “this squad of players I have inherited” and the manner in which he threw some team members under the proverbial bus in his post-match interviews this afternoon and you get the impression of a man not easily able to take on much accountability for the poor standard of fare being produced up under his stewardship.
Hardly the way to win “capture hearts and minds” which is why, contrary to his assertion to the media on Friday, Allardyce hasn’t done so. In the end, there were no overwhelming protests from fans today nor was there a mass exodus in the 78th minute but the boos that rang out at the end of each half and the vast tracts of empty seats around Goodison for the lap of “appreciation” after another abject display — albeit one rescued by a deflected goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time — made a massive statement on their own.
They were an unmistakable rejection of Allardyce, his approach, his tactics and his culture of blame, of that there can be no doubt, but they were also a rebuke to Everton’s players. To his credit, Allardyce also argued afterwards for a measure of forgiveness for the team and an acknowledgement of the fact that they have dragged themselves to safety and eighth place in the table, but he can’t erase the fact that the majority of them have been complicit in a season that Blues fans can’t wait to consign to the history books. In short, there was nothing to celebrate from 2017-18 and you could count one hand the players worthy of any appreciation.
Just minutes earlier, there had been some jubilation in the stands of the Grand Old Lady. Finally getting on top of their desperate opponents after Maya Yashida had been dismissed for a second bookable offence, Everton had spent the period of time added on by referee Jon Moss laying siege to Southampton’s penalty area.
The Saints were clinging to the 1-0 advantage handed them by Nathan Redmond in the 56th minute and were baying for the whistle when Idrissa Gueye squared the ball to Tom Davies and he side-footed a speculative shot into the crowded area that benefited from a heavy deflection off the leg of Wesley Hoedt to bounce past Alex McCartby. It was a moment to savour for the 19-year-old who may have been among those fringe players criticised by his manager after the final whistle but it wasn’t enough to quell the now well-known, expletive-laden chant from sections of the home crowd.
While Southampton were fighting for three points, their energy and urgency wasn’t matched by their hosts until those closing stages. There may not have been much riding on the result in the context of the Premier League but Allardyce and a number of players may well have been playing for their Everton futures. Unfortunately, if the Blues were up for it, it didn’t translate to their play; apart from an early sight of goal by Davies that whistled a couple of feet wide in the third minute, they created next to nothing.
It was as dire and lifeless as anything served up during Allardyce’s time in charge — Everton were bereft of attacking inspiration or any coherent pattern of play. Allardyce tacitly blamed the likes of Davies, Nikola Vlasic, who started his second successive game but was withdrawn after the Southampton goal, and Yannick Bolasie, who was almost completely ineffective until he was hooked at half time, for failing to step up competently to replace the injured Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin but it was the kind of performance Evertonians have come to expect regardless of the personnel.
McCarthy was largely a spectator in the first period but Jordan Pickford was twice called upon at the Gwladys Street End, first to dive to his right and palm away Charlie Austin’s 20-yard half-volley and then to beat away a deflected Oriel Romeu effort from a similar distance.
Allardyce elected to change things at the interval, introducing Ramiro Funes Mori in place of Bolasie and switching to a five-man back line while Mark Hughes was forced to replace the injured Mario Lamina with Redmond.
The latter change provided Southampton the impetus to deservedly take the lead 11 minutes after the restart. Cedric powered down the right flank on the overlap to collect a Simon Højberg pass and cross to the back post where Redmond arrived unmarked to beat Pickford with a downward header.
That elicited a further change from the Everton management with Oumar Niasse replacing the willing but confidence-sapped Vlasic and a couple of flurries involving the Senegalese striker briefly threatened to liven things up from the Blues’ perspective. He won a corner from which Michael Keane headed just wide and almost found Cenk Tosun with a ball whipped across goal but a Saints head intervened to guide it it behind.
Southampton had just five minutes plus added time to hold out when Yashida was given his marching orders for a late tackle on Niasse and that invited the late push from Everton that eventually arrived in the dying minutes.
In between, however, Redmond went close to doubling his tally and killing the contest with a jinking run following a gifted pass from Keane but Pickford again provided the final and decisive barrier with another block.
The home side’s second effort on target in the entire game arrived two minutes into stoppage time when Hoedt chopped Coleman down outside the box and McCarthy came to his team’s rescue with an impressive one-handed save to deny Baines a spectacular leveller.
Everton weren’t to be denied, however, and as the clock ticked on through further time added for an injury to Cedric, Davies broke Southampton’s hearts with virtually the last kick of the game.
Reader Comments (6)
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1 Posted 06/05/2018 at 10:12:00
However thinking back to not replacing Lukaku or getting a left back before the season started despite numerous public calls from RK -followed by no replacement for RK when he paid the inevitable price for that disaster tells me that succession planning at this club is seriously flawed.
Going into a season as a professional football club without a fit left back was farcical. No plan for Koemans replacement was embarrassing. Something tells me nothing will have changed, leaving us embroiled in a cycle of late recruitment of players (therefore paying premiums for average players) and a manager with no time to prepare. This would inevitably lead to a poor pre season that effects the rest of the season and the cycle continues.
Again, the pantomime villain escapes punishment while the fans boo BFS.
What a shambles.
2 Posted 06/05/2018 at 13:06:49
3 Posted 06/05/2018 at 13:29:48
4 Posted 06/05/2018 at 18:42:56
5 Posted 06/05/2018 at 00:07:21
I agree with Si that it's really worrying that we're here. How any new manager is expected to hit the ground running without having anything other than a hastily assembled pre-season post WC, is beyond me. We needed to get shot of the clown before... but then maybe our target is not prepared to leave before the end of the season.
There's a lot of pruning to be done, and hopefully we'll have more success without European distractions. I just hope and pray that Sam and his entourage aren't still with us in August.
6 Posted 07/05/2018 at 22:07:37
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