An empty Goodison Park, another weak and uninspiring performance and a fifteenth Premier League defeat of the campaign that condemned Everton to their lowest league finish since 2004. Hardly a fitting occasion for one of the finest players of the modern era to bow out and yet a result entirely in keeping with this wretched season.
Leighton Baines came on as a 70th-minute substitute, made one last goal-denying tackle and then called time on his magnificent career after the game. He will leave the Blues having never won a trophy but he departs with the adoration of Evertonians everywhere.
Baines won’t be a part of what comes next at Everton but in some ways he might feel like he’s better off out of it because unless Carlo Ancelotti is able to effect more than just the “evolution” he promised this week, there is more frustration ahead with this collection of players.
Granted, the Blues had little to play for beyond the £2.5m in merit payments on offer if they could hold on to 11th place but you’d have hoped that mere pride or one last chance to impress the manager would have inspired a bit more than the pedestrian display they served up.
By the end, fans will have solidified the list of players they would love to see jettisoned this summer but they’ll be all too aware that a number of them will still be around on 12th September when the new season starts because few teams will either want them or be able to afford them.
In the final reckoning of this match, one that condemned Bournemouth to relegation despite them recording the league double over Everton for the first time in their history, the only positives came from a trio of youngsters. Jarrad Branthwaite, deputising again for Mason Holgate, again exhibited poise and cool beyond his tender years; Anthony Gordon came off the bench to inject the urgency that had generally been lacking at that point of the second half; and Moise Keane showed some lovely touches and distribution while also notching his second goal in Royal Blue with a simple tap-in late in the first half.
On the other side of the coin, despite playing in a more favoured role, Gylfi Sigurdsson ambled his way through 90 minutes of pointing and generally slowing everything down; Theo Walcott weighed in with an assist but wasted almost every other opportunity to make something happen in the final third; Tom Davies never ascended above adequate; and André Gomes reverted back to the deeper-lying, ineffective presence in the centre that has made him such a disappointment since the post-lockdown resumption of play.
Then there was Jordan Pickford, once again playing Jekyll and Hyde in goal; a seeming lost cause but a millstone around Everton’s necks unless another club comes in for him during the upcoming transfer window. England’s “number 1” — that title looks highly tenuous now — pulled off another excellent save in one half but committed another glaring error in the second, weakly allowing the ball to slide underneath him for the Cherries’ third and decisive goal with 10 minutes left.
In his post-match interview, Ancelotti explained that he had told the players who will remain this summer — hope springs eternal from that statement! — that they will need to show more motivation next season but you can’t help but feel that the avuncular veteran boss won’t quite be able to light the requisite fire under the backsides of players like Sigurdsson who don’t appear to have any remaining desire.
If finances are to be as tight as many expect, the Italian won’t be able to replace almost all of his midfield, sign a new goalkeeper and fill the other roles that badly need attention this summer, but if he and Marcel Brands can add some genuine quality in key areas, it will help. Whether it will be enough to build a bridge to the top six in 2020-21 remains to be seen and may depend to a large extent on Ancelotti’s own managerial talents.
If there were players playing for their Goodison futures it didn't look like it￼. Bournemouth, on the other hand, were fighting for top-flight survival and, not surprisingly, that was largely reflected over the 90 minutes. The Cherries began on the front foot and were ahead inside 13 minutes, not long after Pickford had pulled off a terrific stop to deny Callum Wilson what looked to be a certain opener with a strong outstretched hand.
Josh King had already prompted a more routine stop from the England international and Aaron Ramsdale had parried away an effort from Seamus Coleman at the other end but it would be King who opened the scoring via the penalty spot. Richarlison was penalised for an obvious handball defending a free-kick and after a check by Video Assistant Referee, Graham Scott, the on-field official, Chris Kavanagh, confirmed the award of a penalty. Pickford guessed the right way but couldn’t reach the shot and the visitors had the lead.
Bournemouth appealed for a second spot-kick just three minutes later when the ball struck Lucas Digne’s hand but this time the officials, rightly, waved them away and it was at that point that Everton briefly came to life.
Kean was displaying some lovely touches and purposeful running and when he chased down a long ball towards the corner flag and picked out Richarlison, the Brazilian was unfortunate to see his effort charged down. A minute later, Kean dinked a perfect pass into Walcott but the winger couldn’t force the ball past Ramsdale.
Despite some sloppy distribution at times — it’s amazing how careless this Everton team is with the ball — Ancelotti’s side were enjoying the better of the contest by this stage and they counter-attacked promisingly 10 minutes before the break but Sigurdsson blasted a decent chance to test the keeper well over the crossbar.
Still, six minutes after that, the equaliser arrived. Sigurdsson passed to Coleman on the edge of the Cherries’ box, Walcott held his run until the Irishman flicked the ball into his path and then rolled it across the face of goal for Kean to convert simply at the back post.
Two minutes after that, Kean was handed a great chance to double his tally but he despatched a disappointing header into the keeper’s arms and then, in first-half stoppage time, Bournemouth reclaimed the lead.
Davies committed a foul in a dangerous spot outside his own box, no one managed to adequately track Dominic Solanke or Jefferson Lerma and the former was the one who got his head to Diego Rico’s free-kick to steer the ball into the far corner.
If there was a collective urge in the Everton ranks to salvage the game and avoid losing to three of the bottom four clubs on home ground this season, it was rarely evident. Wilson had a chance to further the visitors’ lead a couple of minutes after the break but his half-volley was pushed away by Pickford and Kean put another tame header into the keeper’s arms but there was very little in the way of goalmouth incident in the second half.
Everton should have at least had a potential penalty incident reviewed by VAR for a rather obvious-looking handball in the Bournemouth box but it didn't look like there was any communication between Kavanagh and Scott. Par for the course where Everton have been concerned with VAR so far.
Gordon came on and immediately gave Bournemouth more to think about on their left side than Walcott had provided, although the teenager’s cause wasn’t helped by Djibril Sidibé who did the defensive stuff well enough but routinely let the side down with his final ball in attack. The pair almost combined 15 minutes from the end but the Frenchman slightly overdid his cross and Gordon couldn’t get proper purchase on it.
Instead of a late push by the Blues after Dominic Calvert-Lewin had replaced the tiring Kean and Bernard had come on for Davies, it was Bournemouth who scored next. Everton had cleared an 80th-minute free-kick after Keane had chopped Wilson down outside the box and picked up a yellow card for his troubles but Eddie Howe’s side retrieved it and it ended up at the feet of Junior Stanislas.
The forward loves scoring against Everton but even he couldn’t have anticipated the gift he would receive from Pickford as the keeper flapped over his fairly innocuous shot and it ended up in the back of the net to make it 3-1. And that was mostly that.
You would think that a team bearing Ancelotti’s fingerprints can’t possibly keep playing this badly but they have managed it right up to the final game and it doesn’t bode well for a 2020-21 campaign that will also start without fans inside the grounds.
The Italian’s post-match assertion that, "I want a better team. We want a better team. We will have a better team. I want to see more fight,” represent all the right noises but it’s hard from this current vantage point to believe it until there is evidence of it from the players.
Competition for places will help, as would the sale of certain players who currently take up valuable space in the squad. There is ability there but a combination of low confidence, poor decision-making and simple lack of heart make an injection of new ideas and fresh talent as important as ever. Once again, Everton go into a vitally important transfer window, with long-term irrelevance beckoning if they can’t get it right.
And so, the final curtain is drawn on a dismal blighted Premier League season with Everton playing a pivotal role in Bournemouth's ultimately forlorn fight to avoid relegation.￼
The Cherries needed to win and saw Watford lose at Arsenal but West Ham could not beat Aston Villa.￼ Eddie Howe's aide became the first team to beat Everton at Goodison Park since Carlo Ancelotti took charge last December but ultimately it wasn't enough.
Everton meanwhile looked as dradful as anything they had servedup since the restart, despite having lifted spirits last Monday with victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. They surrendered an 11th place finish and an addition £2½M for the transfer kitty based on finishing place payments in the Premier League.
Mason Holgate, Yerry Mina, and Jean-Philip Gbamin were all ruled out, as was Fabian Delph even though the veteran midfielder returned to training this week.
Moise Kean was given a rare start with Jarrad Branthwaite retaining his place. Calvert-Lewin, Gordon, and Simms were on the bench, with Iwobi dropped entirely from the squad.
The Cherries got things going, looking to play forward, Everton calmly thwarting their efforts until the visitors won an early corner, cleared by Keane. The Blues tried but failed to play out from the back and were under attack again fro another corner that fell to King. Pickford saving his sot.
Everton responded with a decent shot by Coleman cutting in that needed stopping by Ramsdale. But King fed Wilson for a fine shot but Pickford was out very smartly to swat the ball away, a very good save from Englan's number 1. But Branthwaite brought down Wilson for a dangerous free-kick that Brooks drove into the wall, but as the ball came down, Richarlison appeared to elbow it sideways, Ref Chris Kavanagh pointing to the spot. Josh King lashed it into the corner.
More Boure=nemouth corners followed in quick succession, Everton struggling to find any rhythm. Another handball but this time less deliberate from Digne, VAR deciding not to give a second penalty that could have really embarrassed the dozey Blues.
at the other end, good work by Kean set up Richarlison but his shot was blocked. Walcott got through on goal but took an extra touch while Ramsdale narrowed all the angles to stop his shot.
The visitors continued to make all the running, a Wilson header needed saving. A rare Blue excursion upfield saw Sigurdsson overhit his cross and Gomes foul his man. The drinks break came and wen with no improvement from an increasingly poor Blues side.
After the half-hour mark, the Blues had a spell of better possession, controlling the midfield but not really creating the final ball needed. Finally, Walcott went on a mazy run, ignoring Kean's movement and feeding Sigurdsson whose strike was rising above the goal.
Branthwaite was superb, stopping and dispossessing Brooks, but there was very little to admire elsewhere. But suddlenly Walcott got behind the defence and Kean was goal hanging at the far post, firing in gleefully from 1½ yards for only his second Everton goal.
Digne then put a lovely cross on Kean's head at the far post but the Italian could not impart enough power into his header. Bournemouth won another less threatening free-kick but it was delivered in superbly Lerma and Solanke rising and heading it together well past a despairing Jordan Pickford in the Everton goal. A little bit too easy, with Branthwaite possibly needing to take more command of the aerial ball in?
After the break, Everton didn't look much better but at least Moise Kean ran down a lost ball and crossed for Richarlison's header to be deflected behind. From the corner, Ramsdale gathered and the Cherries surged forward, Pickford once again needing to stop a fine shot from Wilson.
Walcott and Coleman were called off by Ancellotti, replaced by Sidibé and Gordon before the hour mark, the intensity of the game having become moribund at best. Gordon did his best to fire in quality balls but the Everton forwards just weren't awake to the possibilities.
More changes: Bernard for Davies; Baines for Digne; Calvert-Lewin for Kean with 20 mins of this borefest to go. Baines, making what would be his final Everton appearance, saved an almost certain goal with what looked like an illegal challenge but the ref seemed unconcerned.
Stanislas ran in on goal and fired a low shot that should have been meat and drink for Pickford but it slipped far too easily under his gloves and into the net for a most embarrassing scoreline that further underlined the desperate state of this hapless Everton team. But it wouldn't be enough for The Cherries as Aston Villa drew at West Ham to stay up, condemning them to the Championship again after five seasons in the Premier League.
And so a horrible season for Everton came to an appropriately horrible end with Ancelotti surely wondering just what he has to do to get a tune out of this lot.
Scorers: Kean (41'); King (pen:14'), Solanke (45+1'), Stanislas (80')
Everton: Pickford; Coleman (57' Sidibé), Keane, Branthwaite, Digne (70' Baines); Walcott (57' Gordon), Davies (70' Bernard), Gomes, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Kean (70' Calvert-Lewin)
Sub not Used: Stekelenburg, Virginia, Baningime, Simms.
Bournemouth: Ramsdale, Kelly, Rico, Steve Cook, Smith, Lerma, Gosling, Brooks (64' Stanislas), King (88' H Wilson), Solanke (64' Billing), Wilson.
Subs not Used: Boruc, Ake, Danjuma, Lewis Cook, Stacey, Surridge.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
VAR: Graham Scott
Everton close out the 2019-20 season at Goodison Park against Bournemouth who come to Merseyside fighting for their Premier League lives.￼
The Cherries need to win and hope that Watford lose at Arsenal and West ham beat Aston Villa in order to remain in the top-flight for a seventh successive season.￼ To even stand a chance, Eddie Howe's aide have to become the first team to beat Everton at Goodison Park since Carlo Ancelotti took charge last December.
Home stadium advantage might not be all that it was with fans but the Blues have, nonetheless, remained undefeated since the restart, although it was a close-run thing against Villa last time out.
Everton meanwhile I just looking to end the season on a high, having lifted spirits last Monday with victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Ancelotti will be without the same four injured players as last week￼￼ — Mason Holgate, Yerry Mina, and Jean-Philip Gbamin are all ruled out, as is Fabian Delph even though the veteran midfielder returned to training this week.
The manager had hinted that Moise Kean was in the running to start against the blades but his hopes of being included in the starting lineup for the first time since the restart was scuppered by a minor injury he sustained in training.
The Italian should be fit to face Bournemouth, however, and may well get the nod, perhaps over Dominic Calvert-Lewin who has yet to score since the Premier league resumed last month.
The big question for Blues fans, though, is whether this is to be Leighton Baines's last match at Everton before his contract expires. Ancelotti has made no secret of his desire to see the fullback extend his time at the club by another season but he has also indicated that Baines would have a future at Everton regardless, perhaps in a coaching capacity.
Baines has often conveyed an air that football was never his first love and that has plenty of interests to sustain him after he hangs up his boots. That the further one-year contract extension that has been on the table for the past few weeks remains unsigned is, perhaps, an indication that he feels as though this is the end of the road but Evertonians haven't given up hope.
"I think he is going to give us an answer before Sunday," Ancelotti has said. "I think he will make a decision this week or at the end of the game.
“We don't have to wait a lot. Before the game I'd like to talk to him about this, as always Leighton is so professional and every decision I take he understands.
He may be 35 but Baines has shown on the few occasions on which he has been called this season that he can clearly do a job, even if he wouldn't be able to withstand a full season. As such, he could save the club plenty this summer but agreeing to stay for another season but it could be that his mind is already made up.
"He can be a player but also he can be part of this club,” Ancelotti said. “I don't know in which position but for sure he can be part of this club."
If Everton can play like they did in Sheffield six days ago then Bournemouth face an uphill task to remain in the division. Playing with a tweaked formation, Blues were markedly improved against the Blades and would be confident of finishing the season on a high if they can carry that display through to the final game.
Kick-off: 4pm, Sunday 26 July, 2020
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
VAR: Graham Scott
Last Time: Everton 2 - 0 Bournemouth
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Branthwaite, Digne, Davies, Gomes, Sigurdsson, Walcott, Richarlison, Kean