A Fittingly Awful End to a Dreadful Season

By Lyndon Lloyd 14/05/2018 30comments  |  Jump to last

Before today, David Moyes’s reunions with the club where he spent 11 reputation-building years had been exercises in routine and, often, comprehensive defeat. Beaten home and away as manager of Manchester United four seasons ago, the Scot had the same treatment meted out to him as manager of Sunderland last season and he was handed his heaviest defeat against Everton last November when the Blues romped to a 4-0 win under David Unsworth.

Add to that the fact that in the Premier League era, West Ham are Everton’s favourite opponents, throw in an essentially meaningless end-of-season game and you had the ingredients for an occasion where even Sam Allardyce could throw caution to the wind and go for it a bit. Stop laughing at the back.

The much-maligned manager did finally experiment with two strikers, although their lack of experience playing together, West Ham’s first-half dominance and Everton’s crippling lack of creativity meant that they weren’t able to link up like a genuine strike partnership at any stage. In any case, Allardcye largely nullified any nod towards attacking adventure by deploying three centre-halves and two holding midfielders and if the intent was to release Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman to conduct raids down the flanks, it didn’t work.

The result was a performance that mostly made the Hammers, who began the day in 15th place, look a significantly better team than their record and recently averted crisis suggests they are and, eventually, resulted in a defeat that may have seemed harsh when comparing chances created but which was wholly deserved on the balance of play.

Indeed, in the first period in particular, all the “joined up” football was coming from the home team, with the visitors largely reliant on direct balls forward and attempted penetrating passes from deep. West Ham were next to bottom when Allardyce came on board at Goodison and while has spent the last few months moaning that his team can’t play with style because of the players at his disposal, Moyes has seemingly got on with the job of getting his side playing some pretty decent football.

With the Hammers moving the ball around crisply in midfield and Mario Lanzini and Marco Arnautovic buzzing around purposefully in forward areas, Everton’s three central defenders betrayed their unfamiliarity with the formation and were opened up after 10 minutes by a neat interchange.

Arnautovic had seconds earlier seen his first shot in anger blocked well by Michael Keane but after the Hammers retrieved the ball, he played Mark Noble in close to goal with a one-two pass. The midfielder’s side-foot shot searching for the corner was stopped brilliantly and one-handed, however, by Jordan Pickford.

After Joao Mario had flashed a shot an inch wide of the post in the 26th minute, Moyes’s side almost shot themselves in the foot just past the half-hour mark. Angelo Ogbonna mis-controlled badly an up-and-under clearance by Phil Jagielka allowing Oumar Niasse to rob him of the ball and drive into the penalty area towards Adrian. The Senegalese striker elected to go shoot towards his near post and the goalkeeper made the save with his out-stretched leg.

It was a miss that the Blues would rue seven minutes later when Lanzini capitalised on embarrassing defending to give West Ham the lead. An innocuous-looking pass from Cheikhou Kouyaté deceived Keane as it eluded the toe of Arnautovic and Lanzini, who had started the move near the halfway line continued his run between two blue shirts to pick up the loose ball and slot home.

Allardyce responded at half time by withdrawing Ramiro Funes Mori, who had done nothing to suggest he has been hard done-by by being excluded from the starting XI since he regained his fitness, and introducing Davy Klaassen into a midfield that now boasted four central midfielders and no width.

It resulted in more possession for Everton but precious little service to the strikers or threats to the Hammers’ goal apart from a tame effort from Klaassen from around 20 yards out that Adrian claimed easily. Instead of taking one of the midfielders off and going for a more attacking formation, however, Allardyce stuck to type hooked Cenk Tosun when it came time to throw Theo Walcott on, much to the Turk’s visible disgust.

His fury was probably matched by most Blues fans; as a decision it made no sense under the circumstances. As the goals that were raining in on the other side of London at Wembley in one of those wild final-day goal-fests that happen every now and then ably demonstrated, what on earth was there to lose in just going all out for goals?

Two minutes later, it was 2-0 from a goal largely out of nothing. Picking up a pass in a benign area outside the Everton box, Arnautovic simply rolled Keane who was too tight and too slow to recover and smashed a shot practically through Pickford’s gloves from 25 yards. The replays aren’t kind to the young goalkeeper who appeared to crouch expecting the ball to dip towards the ground before it lifted slightly at the end and flew past him.

Niasse gave Everton hope 11 minutes later, however. Having seen a strong shot of his own beaten onto the post and out by Adrian after he’d collected an excellent flighted ball down the channel by Klaassen, the striker was on hand with some deft control and an emphatic finish to make it 2-1 from the ensuing corner.

Morgan Schneiderlin looped a header back into the six-yard box where a Aaron Cresswell got a head to it but Niasse quickly flicked it back towards goal, swivelled and rapped it in almost on the goal line with 16 minutes to.

The hosts restored their two-goal advantage and effectively sealed the game eight minutes later, however, shortly after Jagielka had done enough to put Pablo Zabaleta off in front of goal so that he swiped the ball wide rather than make it 3-1.

Lanzini was the marksman again, profiting from the yard or two’s space afforded him by Coleman at the corner of the area and curling a shot towards the top right corner. Pickford went for it with his opposite hand and got fingers to it but could only guide it onto the post and in.

Everton had a late flurry where they threatened to make a game of it again when Walcott found himself in but was denied by Adrian and the ‘keeper was quick to react to Niasse’s follow-up and bat it away to safety as well.

So an awful season, forgettable in almost every way except for the stain it will have left on the Blues’ Premier League era, one already blemished by two scrapes with relegation, is finally out the way.

The threat of the drop, to the extent that it existed with 24 matches left in the campaign, was largely extinguished fairly soon after Allardyce arrived. (It’s hard to believe there were 12 teams worse than Everton, the paucity of quality in the top flight rendering a finish as high as eighth flattering in the extreme.) The interim has been a frustrating succession of dull performances, moribund football, lifeless defeats to the teams that finished above, and a near constant yearning for 2017-18 to be over.

Now that it is, the club’s hieraerchy can hopefully start making the key decisions – starting with the removal of the manager – that will ensure that next season is nothing like what has just transpired. As a fanbase, patience is being replaced by apathy but it’s by no means irretrievable. Another big summer awaits if those in the corridors of power are ready to take the bull by the horns and steer it in the right direction.

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Reader Comments (30)

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Karl Parsons
1 Posted 14/05/2018 at 08:32:48
Moshiri is now seriously under the spotlight. What was deemed as the second coming and the catalyst to propel the Club into CL contention has rapidly diminished and been replaced with unmistakable apathy.

It's two years since the man took over and all in all its been an absolute disaster. Yes, I know the stadium is in place (we hope) and the Club's finances are on an even keel but the macro view of Everton Football Club is shambolic, and I fear it may get worse.

This is where we get to see his metal and his ability to steer a juggernaut with more burst tyres than we all dare count. One by one he needs to sort each issue out and turn the thing around.

I guess we will all know if he's the right man for Everton by the end of August.

Brian Williams
2 Posted 14/05/2018 at 08:42:12
Really interesting piece in the Red Echo today, gleaned from newsnow.


Bit of an eye opener to be honest and everyone should have a read of it. Gives as true a view as possible of what supporters of other premiership teams think of our club.

Jerome Shields
3 Posted 14/05/2018 at 08:43:06
I thought Niasse deserved another goal and a draw. Allardyce deserved to lose. At the moment I can see another aimless Summer.
Christopher Timmins
4 Posted 14/05/2018 at 09:32:22
Our former manger, Koeman, acquired a high number of very moderate players at over the top prices during his reign. Apart from Pickford, there have been some shockers.

Let's not forget the high quality football we were playing during the first part of the season with our 3 number 10's. We have been playing dreadful football for a long time!

Sam Allardyce, was hired because of our horrific start to the season, when he arrived we were out of contention for a top six place, out of the League Cup and humiliated in Europe.

Given, the above, I can't see how the removal of the current manager guarantees us anything for the season ahead. Hopefully, we will be lucky in our choice of a new manager and that the new man can improve the current squad and have better luck with his acquisitions, however, its a bloated and mediocre squad and there is a lot of work to be done.

I wish the new man well and promise not to get on his back during his first year in the job.

Martin Nicholls
5 Posted 14/05/2018 at 09:48:55
Brian#2 - thanks for the link to this interesting insight. Four things struck me :
(1) most seemed to think we'd done good transfer business with Pickford (understandable) and Keane (what went wrong?) singled out for special mention,
(2) Tom Davies (followed by Seamus) was our most admired player,
(3) Ross Barkley was our most disliked player with many feeling he was/is over-rated, and,
(4) virtually everyone was spectacularly wrong over their relegation tips with no-one at all picking Stoke or WBA! Only one person had Swansea as a definite with two suggesting them as possible. Perhaps illustrates that outside the Sky Six, mediocrity plays on a level field!
Maybe I should have added a fifth - most seem to like us!
Martin Nicholls
6 Posted 14/05/2018 at 09:57:41
Christopher#4 - not sure we were "out of contention for top six"! If memory serves, we were in 13th place some 6 points adrift with 24 games to play - we'd already played most of the top teams in our first 14 games. We did finish 14 points away from 6th but reasonable and attainable results against Bournemouth away, WBA (home and away), Watford away, Burnley away, Liverpool home, Southampton home and West Ham away would have easily bridged that gap - instead we put in spineless and cowardly performances.
Jon Withey
7 Posted 14/05/2018 at 10:29:01
My layman's view on Moshiri is that mainly he has given the club an interest free loan and kick-started the stadium into the early stages - am I wrong ?

Better than nothing - but clearly we haven't been as fortunate as Chelsea or City . We seem to be more in the West Ham and Leicester tier financially - maybe Tottenham at a push.

Brian Williams
8 Posted 14/05/2018 at 10:31:32
Martin, the things that stood out for me were; next to nobody expected us to finish above seventh.
This makes me wonder "Are we as deluded as some claim we are expecting to be challenging the top four? Nobody else expects it. Do we need a reality check?
(Devil's advocate there).
The other one that stood out was the fact that all of the other supporters had Burnley for the drop.
Steve Brown
9 Posted 14/05/2018 at 10:43:26
Most fans of other clubs I talk to say we have a good squad, probably the best outside the top six. It was pretty much this squad - with the shameful exception of not replacing Lukaku on the summer - that qualified for the Europa League and the it has significantly enhanced by a large number of signings. As Martin @ 6 points out, we were six points off top six when Allardyce was hired with 24 games to play.

First to admit that the players attitude and application has been at times shameful. But that is what happens when they don't respect the manager and his approach. Both Koeman and Allardyce lost the dressing room and proved to be two of the worst managers in our long history.

Christopher Timmins
10 Posted 14/05/2018 at 10:51:54
Folks, in fairness when we lost 4 - 1 at Southampton did anyone seriously look at the table and think that we might catch anyone in the top 6.

The performances all season have been poor and the responsibility for same rests principally with Koeman. He spent the money. He did not replace Rom with a like for like.

Lawrence Green
11 Posted 14/05/2018 at 11:11:11
Brian #8

You're probably right about us as fans being 'deluded' but I suppose that's what's kept the turnstiles clicking over the last five years. Of course the gap between the top clubs and ourselves is large and has grown larger in the last five years, a combination of their having better players and our ineptness on and off the pitch.

Moshiri was probably misguided in his thinking or at least badly advised, that the signing of a shed-load of players would be an easy fix, that would bridge the gap between 7th and the higher places, particularly as at the same time, he oversaw the loss of the better players, Lukaku, Stones et al.

What the last five years has shown, is that Everton FC lacked a proper foundation for the football side of the club, for good or ill, the whole thing was predicated upon the ability of the manager, a decent, dedicated manager such as David Moyes, was able to cope with any financial restrictions, and he was able to coax regular good performances from mostly average players.

Since then each manager has arrived and failed to get consistent performances from the players as individuals and there is no semblence of a team out on the pitch and there hasn't been for a good while.

We are all waiting for the club to be run better than it has been in the last couple of decades, perhaps, it was inevitable that we would have to witness it going backwards, before it moves forwards. If things on and off the pitch don't improve soon though, we could be on a devastating downward spiral.

The team on the pitch, for me at least, mirrors the way the boardroom has been and is operating, there is no sense that each individual is pulling in the same direction, each it seems is persuing their own selfish agenda, there is no obvious leader, there are too many confused signals leading to much muddled thinking and rank poor decisions.

Until that fault-line is addressed and until somebody actually takes ownership of the football side of the club, we face more of the same in the foreseeable future and any dreams we have for the team, will be seen from the outside at least, as delusional.

Brian Williams
12 Posted 14/05/2018 at 11:16:45
Couldn't have put it better myself mate, spot on.
Gerry Quinn
13 Posted 14/05/2018 at 12:17:57
Lyndon, nobody does headlines more accurately than you :)
Tom Bowers
14 Posted 14/05/2018 at 12:42:34
The obituaries say it all. A truly miserable season !
When you are losing games to Soton 1-4 and West Ham 1-3 you know you have a poor side.

Allardyce should face up to the truth that he is not a good manager and do the right thing-quit !!!

Next season will just be more of the same if he stays even with new signings. He just has no idea about inspiring a squad to better things.

Ian Burns
15 Posted 14/05/2018 at 13:29:00
Tom -14 - Allardyce should quit, purely out of decency to EFC and its long suffering supporters. However, he won't because he has his back pocket ready to trouser his 6m pay off and whatever it costs the club to take his hangers-on with him.

Well said Lyndon - now we pray for a Silva lining.

Nicholas Ryan
16 Posted 14/05/2018 at 13:31:09
You're right Lyndon, the fact that there are 12 teams worse than us, is absolutely terrifying!!
Brian Denton
17 Posted 14/05/2018 at 13:35:34
Nicholas, "the fact that there are 12 teams worse than us, is absolutely terrifying!!"

Actually I find it quite comforting.

John Boon
18 Posted 14/05/2018 at 13:36:35
The one signing that has been relatively free from criticism is Pickford. I am just glad that West Ham debacle wasn't his first game because if it had been I would also put him in the "Useless Signings" category. Hopefully it was just a bad day along with many good ones. I felt he could have done better on all three goals. Definitely not at international level. I just hope he is not also falling under the Allardyce affect.
Wayne Paul
19 Posted 14/05/2018 at 13:50:39
How can any one give Pickford a hard time? It's the defence and how Allardyce sets 'em up.
John Hammond
20 Posted 14/05/2018 at 15:53:59
Lawrence #11: "The team on the pitch... there is no sense that each individual is pulling in the same direction, each it seems is persuing their own selfish agenda..."

That to me says the players are mirroring the manager not the board.

Jim Wilson
21 Posted 14/05/2018 at 18:11:15
If we have had a dreadful season and finished 8th it shows you how bad the Premiership is.
A top 4 place is there for the taking next season if we have a positive and sensible manager in place who will do the right things.
The signing of a couple of influential players. continuity, a settled team with a back 4 and we will be fine.
Raymond Fox
22 Posted 14/05/2018 at 18:26:31
Top 4 there for the taking !! You can get big odds on that happening Jim.
Darren Hind
23 Posted 14/05/2018 at 18:29:48
I find it difficult to listen to supporters of other clubs, those who support lower clubs think we expect too much and those who support higher clubs think we are part of the also-ran's and think we have no right to want more.

We're Everton, we have won more titles than Chelsea, in fact we have won more titles than City, Spurs and Leicester put together. Some of these clubs have spent a century trying to get above us and think they are there for keeps . .We'll see about that

We have to get our house in order for sure, but we wont do that by listening to where others feel we belong, especially those ex players in the media who didn't win a carrot when they were playing themselves

Tony Everan
24 Posted 14/05/2018 at 18:37:49

A 2017/18 summary using a myriad of adjectives used in TW headlines throughout the season.

‘ A season in adjectives ‘

Depressing, Woeful, Awful, Abject, Dreadful,confused, lacklustre,disappointing,crumbling,terrible, succumb,wasteful,inconsistent,unimaginative, slaughter, shocked,struggle, poor,shambolic,humiliated, capitulation, ugly, beleaguered, damaging, dismal slump

Just about sums it up I'd say.

Gerry Quinn
25 Posted 14/05/2018 at 18:44:11
Tony, I challenge Lyndon to put all of those words into one paragraph so that we can send it to Koeman and Allardyce - the Board too...
Alastair Kelly
26 Posted 14/05/2018 at 21:27:35
Let's not panic. We've got through a painful season and now we need to build on that next year. We don't want a big name coming in and doing another Koeman reshuffle with massive turnover of players. What we do want is a manager who will get a couple out and a couple in and have us playing half decent football credibly challenging for a Europa league place next season. Small steps. Allardyce's appointment was always a marriage of convenience and he should probably go. We need someone who will put their heart into Everton and who can get the players playing for him and the fans again. That someone is David Moyes. Let him finish what he started and rebuild his reputation that Man U soiled. He was excellent with little resources, he will excel with what would be at his disposal from Moshiri.
Jim Wilson
27 Posted 14/05/2018 at 22:32:29
Alastair - yeah let's go another 10 years of never coming close to winning at Anfield, getting dumped out of cups by lower division clubs and having skirmishes with relegation (yes it did happen with him in charge).
Paul Kelly
28 Posted 14/05/2018 at 00:25:51
“That someone is David Moyes. ”,

Er, no, no it is not. Have you seen his record since leaving us?

Neville Jones
29 Posted 15/05/2018 at 14:02:16
First on the game, our 4 0 win probably flattered us, the penalty save and Wayne's goal of the season were crucial in the result. We were crap on Sun but 2 goals, down to very uncharacteristic errors by Jordan. He is allowed that for all he has done in keeping us in games. So, maybe, with luck we got have got something out of the game but much of the damage was done by half time, taking Cenk off and not Tom exacerbated the uphill battle.

Very difficult to blame players attempting to make sense out of a 1st half back 3 system which does not suit us. Yes, Allardyce must tke the blame especially after S'ton the week before. Funes comes in having had little time on the pitch in a back 3 and gets unfairly criticised.

If Sam goes, let us give him credit for what he has done, we were in a very bad situation when he came, despite us being in 13th (thanks to the 4 0 win). I didn't hear many dissenting voices and realy the only other choice was probably Unsy who I like but it was obviously too early for him.

Alistair is correct, let's not panic, we have a good squad of players but fair enough we have high expectations. we do not have the Premier league history of Man City, United, Arsenal and Chelsea ad nauseum but we can bulid on our squad. No problem with Moyes but Wenger good, Please not the divi from watford.

Steve Ferns
30 Posted 15/05/2018 at 14:13:30
Good to see Alan Irvine and Steve Round on the forum touting for their mate, Davie Moyes to get his job back!

Did anyone see Moyes' "the grass isn't greener comments"? He was talking about players wanting moves. Talk about the kettle calling the pot black.

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