The day started so well. Up at 5:45 am and managed to sneak out of the house without disturbing the dogs – what would they do if we were burgled, I wondered?

The car was showing minus 2 degrees and there was a thick covering of ice on the windscreen – that’s Dartmoor in April for you!! Try scraping thick ice off a windscreen without making a noise. It’s not easy!!

The 40-mile drive to Taunton was nice and gentle and the coach turned up on time. We had 45 or so on the coach plus another 20 on a minibus – another great turnout for West Country Blues and impeccably organised as ever.

Chairman Ron was due to make his comeback in this game after being injured at the Arsenal game but unfortunately his car was knackered – next time, Ron, and great to hear you are back and ready for the run-in.

The drive to Stanley Park was excellent and we were there by 12:30 so I made my way to the Harlech to meet Danny, Derek, Andy, the Abrahams, and a whole host of smashing lads who are devoted Blues. Great company and I owe Peter Moore a beer at the Bournemouth game!

Like so many, I was worried at hearing our team and even more so when the game started. For me, we have seen evidence so often that we can’t control a game with only two in centre-midfield and, apart from the last 15 minutes of the first half, we could see this yet again. In the second half, we were overrun – Gana disappeared and Garner was left on his own with Tom Davies and they couldn’t do it without the third man.

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I cannot for the life of me figure out why the tactic was to punt high balls to Maupay. He gets a lot of stick and should have scored twice in the first half but, at his height, pumping high balls is plain stupid and Dyche sure as hell isn't that. Simms looks raw but he held the ball up when he came on and got stuck in, and certainly gave their defence more cause for concern than Maupay. 

It was clear that Silva told his players to put balls over the top of our full backs and they were lining up to score from the pullbacks they created using this tactic. Man Utd did this last week so why we hadn’t worked out in training how to combat this is a bit of a mystery.

Equally mysterious was when Godfrey was taken off. Blokes around me were shouting that he’d bottled it after his error for their second goal and I have never heard the announcer informing the crowd of the reason for the substitution – in this case, it was concussion. Is this a new thing or was he informing us that he hadn’t in fact bottled it?

I felt sorry for Ben as I thought he’d done okay up to him losing the flight of the cross for the goal. Was he already concussed and that was why he lost the flight of the ball? Very strange!

I have to admit I was blazing mad after the third went in and how we escaped with only three goals against, I’m not sure. It seemed like they had three men lined up along our penalty box just waiting to have a pop at goal. Pickford made a couple of good saves and there were a few excellent blocks from players throwing themselves at the ball.

In my anger at what I was seeing, I was cursing Dyche for getting his tactics so wrong but having had the journey home (in the house at 10:45 pm) to ponder, he really didn’t have a lot of choice in many respects.

He has clearly decided not to use young players in his first-choice team and we were missing probably our four most important players in Coleman (there was no leadership yesterday) Calvert-Lewin, Onana and Doucouré. Without the latter two, we have no midfield.

I liked what I saw from Garner who will be far better with Onana beside him. That still doesn’t excuse the high ball tactic to Maupay and he should have started Davies with Simms up front and Maupay and Gray on the bench.

I had plenty of time on the coach to consider our position. The second half was possibly the worst I have seen in 60 years and when you think that includes Tommy Carey’s team in 1971-72 when only Howard Kendall the player stood between us and the drop, it shows just how bad we were.

Sean Dyche has to get it right next game as Crystal Palace are physically very strong and we have to play a team which can compete. A five-man midfield is a must and if his head is right, I’d consider Mina replacing one of the centre-backs.

If Seamus isn’t fit, we need a leader; if no-one is stepping forward, then Coady has to be considered although he was not playing well before he was dropped. 

A few questions that popped into my head whilst typing this:

Why use the high ball to Maupay?

Why, when most teams play better football, do we soak the pitch before we play?

Who is the idiot who sanctioned the purchase of Maupay? I’m not one for getting on players' backs but really, what can he do?

How can the directors continue to be absent when we are all willing the players to give their all? Why not make a public apology to the fans and ask to unite at least until the season finishes – those empty three seats are embarrassing.

Yesterday, I was reading the book “Boys from the Blue Stuff” which focuses on our journey through the seventies up to our glory days in the eighties and there is a fascinating piece in the first Kendall era when he is trying to buy Alan Brazil

Kendall was told by Sir Philip Carter that the club was not prepared to lay out so much money on one player as it would be irresponsible, risky (and indeed he was never the same player after Ipswich due to back problems) and the club was not going to jeopardise its future by doing this. How times have changed!

I am one of life’s positive people n– never ever give up and always look on the bright side – it drives my wife mad! We are not down yet even if, heaven forbid, Nottingham Forest win today.

If they lose, then all we have to do is match the Bottom 3 for the last seven games. To do so, we need Dominic Calvert-Lewin to play with heart and soul and we need Sean Dyche to get the formation right.

Just as important is ourselves, the supporters. Goodison was like a morgue yesterday and I can understand why but it won’t help if we are quiet or if we boo the players. They are fragile enough without us turning on them.

Where was the coach welcoming committee? Where are the blue flares? And where is the raucous non-stop singing that we had in our hours of need last season?

I know it’s difficult to get ourselves up when watching that dreadful second half yesterday but, if we can do it for away games, then we can surely replicate it at home?

I'm not doing player ratings as, apart from Garner and McNeil they were all poor and the teamwork was non-existent. 

Let’s go again boys!!

Reader Comments (27)

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Derek Knox
1 Posted 16/04/2023 at 21:19:20
Hi Dave, good article and great to meet you too yesterday, if only the Football matched the quality of it's loyal stalwarts we would be in the clear by now. Hopefully it was a learning curve, albeit a late one, to both the players and Dyche too. Because if they don't heed that as the possible death knell, they never will, that is assuming they care as much as we do.

We just have to hope for a dramatic upturn of our own making, and also hope that other results go in our favour too. I actually thought of all the games left to play yesterday at home was pretty much a 3 pointer, or at the very least a one point draw.

Peter Moore
2 Posted 16/04/2023 at 21:28:31
What a great article, by a great supporters. A great pleasure to meet you in the Harlech Castle and so many other TW evertonians. Your dedication and that of countless other blues is testament to the great love that abounds for Everton Football Club isn't it 💙
That yesterday surely has to be, if we are to turn this around and stave off relegation, the team hitting rock bottom in terms of performance.
There is no room for other wasted opportunities. There is time between games to get organised, get a team shape and organisation where we can compete and win the midfield battle and a striker up front be it Simms or even a Yeri Mina or Michael Keane to give us something to play off up front.
Sean Dyche, it's now time to learn from the selection and tactics errors in the last two games and give us a chance!! UTFT. May your next visits this season to watch Everton, match the quality of your support with the quality of the team performance. If that happens, we shall have nothing to fear. COYB 💙
Neil Copeland
3 Posted 16/04/2023 at 21:29:39
Hi Dave, good article which I enjoyed thanks.

It was great to meet you and everyone else at the Harlech yesterday. You must be positive to travel the distance that you do to each hone game! I share your positivity and agree that we have to keep believing,

The announcement regarding Ben Godfreys substation was to advise all that because it was for concussion, we still had 5 other subs available to us.

Anyway, as you say, we go again and although I still well pissed off about yesterday I am looking forward to Palace and 3 points.


Neil Copeland
4 Posted 16/04/2023 at 21:46:46
Peter, I enjoyed the bottle of beer last night, cheers mate. Hope you got home safe and sound.
Danny O’Neill
5 Posted 16/04/2023 at 21:53:16
Dave, great to me you and all the travelling blues that congregated yesterday. A pleasure to be in your company.

I too was perplexed by the tactics. Virtually no midfield and hitting long balls to a small forward. I know he's had his critics, but I actually felt for Maupay. He was fighting a lost cause. We seemed to think Duncan Ferguson was playing up front.

Yesterday was a massive disappointment on the pitch. But off the pitch it meant a lot to meet with people who have this club in their heart and soul.

We move to Saturday and fight the next fight.

Peter Moore
6 Posted 16/04/2023 at 22:23:21
Thanks Neil (4) Thanks greatly for the lifts! I got home well thanks. I'm pleased the Stingo went down well. We were certainly Stung by the failure on the pitch, then Stingoed off it! Football wise, I saw the Dyche interview where he alluded to the players not being able to rise up to perform their best in games we are expected to win.
This has been long standing problem hasn't it. Home to table topping Arsenal, the lads could give their all to defy expectations and beat the league leaders.
Home to a misfiring Fulham shorn of their star player and we fluffed our lines big time.
As we are underdogs on paper in many of the coming games, let's hope that the players can find their best form.
The next game where we are probably favourites is possibly not until the last game of the season isn't it, home to Bournemouth. Please God, let us be safe by then! UTFT!
Dave Downey
7 Posted 17/04/2023 at 21:27:18
Fortunately, the other 3 teams below us seem to have so much respect for Everton's top-flight record that they've decided to commit hara-kiri in order to save us from the drop. Leeds also in the mix and currently under the cosh from the RS.

Everton will stay up and we can look forward to our final season at Goodison played out in a dreary blend of mediocrity, distant memories of better times and the contradictory mixture of apathy and vitriol from the stands. We need relegating so that the clock can be reset. Instead, we'll just have another empty decade of dross, but played out in a more modern setting.

Mick O'Malley
8 Posted 18/04/2023 at 13:47:17
Dave @7,

I sort of agree with you, if we manage to survive and stay up, things will stay the same. I'm fed up winning about 10 games a season and finishing in the bottom half.

If we go down, I'll take it on the chin, if all we've got to look forward to is consistent relegation battles, then maybe a spell in the Championship and hopefully a promotion charge will reinvigorate the club and fans. It holds no fear for me.

I obviously don't want us to go down but I don't really care about ridiculous records about playing the most games in the top division. It's time to leave all that nonsense in the past where it belongs – it means absolutely nothing, bar a couple of half-decent seasons.

Our time in the Premier League is an embarrassment. I'm fed up just making the numbers up. I'd love a season where we are challenging at the top.

Paul Hewitt
9 Posted 18/04/2023 at 13:51:58
Dave @7.

I agree, relegation could be the reset this club needs. But I think we're in the minority in that thinking.

Tony Abrahams
10 Posted 18/04/2023 at 14:09:20
It was great to meet you on Saturday, Dave, and I wish I could have spoken to you a bit more because not only do you love Everton but you always speak a lot of common sense, mate.

Dyche has the players turning up in their cars now, so the coach welcomings are out, and after a very good start to his Everton regime (average = absolutely fantastic, with this group of players, imo) it's like he's already forgotten what was beginning to really work.

Hard work and hard to beat has been replaced by an open system that has made us easy to play against and our manager needs to rectify it quickly.

I've been saying it all season, Dave @7, but our finances and what it's going to do to our younger generation of absolutely fantastically loyal supporters has started giving me second thoughts although it really is imperative that Everton Football Club is allowed to reset itself very soon.

Alan McGuffog
11 Posted 18/04/2023 at 14:30:05

I think we can only dream of dreary mediocrity. That'd be wonderful!

Barry Hesketh
12 Posted 18/04/2023 at 14:32:51
It's ridiculous to see relegation as a chance for the club to reset, when there is more than a chance that it could signal the beginning of the end of the club.

If we do survive, it means we'll have another go at trying to rebuild whilst retaining the income that the Premier League brings. Relegation will mean losing whichever reasonable players we have for lower fees than they're worth and we'll be reliant on youngsters and loanees to try and get back in the top league.

Relegation wouldn't have been a good option for the club in 1994, 1998 or last season and it certainly isn't a good option in 2023.

Will Mabon
13 Posted 18/04/2023 at 15:28:02
Agree, Barry.

Relegation is a bad thing.

Perhaps someone will research more deeply than my general perception and shoot me down but it seems to me that fewer clubs than not, fully shake off the effects to again become a stabilized force that really consolidates in the top league. More so in recent decades.

Excluding Man City and Chelsea, and now Newcastle powered by big money, Villa, Leicester and West Ham have made a fist of it, all with varying money input. Burnley have surprised to say the least.

Many more have faded or are fading into oblivion. We of course have unresolved money pressures that we will carry into next season whatever.

Aside from the loss of the proud record, at best I feel it leaves a scar that we can do without. In the strange way that past winners have that indefinable knowing how to win that somehow prevails through later staff and players, perhaps in some there's an equivalent of knowing how to be relegated.

I'd rather avoid it at all cost.

Dave Abrahams
14 Posted 18/04/2023 at 15:56:46
Dave, it really was great to see you on Saturday.

I told you on Saturday what I've said on here a few times that I really admire and you fans who travel all over the country and even to the home games when each trip means you cover hundreds of miles, getting up at such early hours, 5:45 am on Saturday

You are absolutely brilliant fans and it is so much easier for fans like me to follow the Blues. I've watched them for a long time but have never lived further than 10 minutes, at the most, from Goodison Park.

I just wish the team had given you a victory to travel home with, even if they had stunk the place out, which they did, to be honest, on Saturday.

Dave, you are obviously a knowledgeable fan who understands the game but couldn't understand, like most of us, why Dyche approached the game the way he did on Saturday. It was so wrong on quite a few points and hopefully he learns from his mistakes.

As I am posting this, I've heard that Dominic is playing for the team in a behind closed doors game v Chester; let's hope he comes through it okay and is in the squad on Saturday.

I don't want relegation this season, Dave, for the simple reason: If we go down, in our situation, it will be a long time before we manage to get back up.

Great to see you, Dave, and I hope we meet again soon, very best wishes.

Kevin Molloy
15 Posted 18/04/2023 at 16:05:47
I understand Calvert-Lewin trained all week with the first team. I reckon Saturday was planned to be him getting at those high balls, only for him to decide it really wasn't for him after all.

Cos yes, if you're thinking of playing Maupay, you don't tell your centre-backs to hit it high. And Dyche said after the game Dom is very nearly there.

Very frustrating, cos it's not just the goal threat, playing a target man is how our whole team works. Without it, well, we're a bit of a busted flush.

John Charles
16 Posted 18/04/2023 at 16:14:49
I have been told we played against Chester at Finch Farm today (lost 1-0). Calvert-Lewin played but went off injured. This from someone connected to Chester – not us.
Will Mabon
17 Posted 18/04/2023 at 16:17:53
"Calvert-Lewin played but went off injured."

If that is true, I hope it's the last straw.

Stan Schofield
18 Posted 18/04/2023 at 16:40:24
Good article, Dave, very positive.

I agree with Barry and Will that relegation is not a good thing. It's the last thing we want. Yes, we need some form of reset, more drive at the top of the club, less readiness to sell our best players at the drop of a hat (a problem that's gone on, in my experience, since the sale of Ball in 1971, and which has repeatedly stymied competing for trophies), and less of a defeatist mentality.

Talk of the so-called benefits of relegation goes back to Catterick in the early 70s, and is, I believe, a symptom of the malaise at Everton. Such talk is the very opposite of a practical approach to achieving success.

Mark Murphy
19 Posted 18/04/2023 at 17:22:25


We at least need some money in for him.

I'm as frustrated as everyone but we need him fit one way or the other!

Will Mabon
20 Posted 18/04/2023 at 18:07:43

I meant more in the vain hope of relying on him as being any kind of saviour, and perhaps beyond.

We need to face the next month with what we have. Calvert-Lewin will not be there for us. I don't wish him ill but there is something seriously wrong and the club's need is bigger.

I reiterate – if reports are true.

Dave Carruthers
21 Posted 19/04/2023 at 07:53:35
The Echo reports DCL came off as planned after 70 mins (which would make absolute sense, I guess). Let’s see…
John Burns
22 Posted 19/04/2023 at 08:16:54
Dave (21). It also suggested it was a hamstring problem.
Mick O'Malley
23 Posted 19/04/2023 at 14:40:38
Regarding relegation, obviously no Everton fan wants us relegated. For me, it holds no fear.

All I know is, since the Premier League started, we've had a couple of seasons where we were competing for a Champions League place and we've had some cup runs, a few semi-finals and a couple of FA Cup Finals.

So basically just making the numbers up. We don't compete for trophies, we very rarely get in Europe, and all the while, teams and clubs who we considered are lesser have now overtaken us.

I'm fed up just making the number up. These last 2 seasons have been an embarrassment and it won't get better due to our financial problems. I don't subscribe to the “If we go down, we'll be in League One the season after” narrative and that gets trotted out.

All I'm saying is, if we go down, it's nothing to be worried about. I honestly believe we will be challenging for promotion. We'd have a season of excitement instead of this Groundhog Day shite we have season after season.

It's gotten so bad that all we have to look forward to is hopefully beating Liverpool as a highlight of the season, and that only happens very occasionally now.

I don't want us to go down, absolutely no way do I want that… but, if it happens, wouldn't it be great to bounce back with a Championship title or a trophy playoff final win?

All I know is I'm absolutely pissed-off being an also-ran in this league while the top 6 get richer and we sink further into irrelevance.

Brian Denton
24 Posted 19/04/2023 at 15:48:15
Mick (23) I can see what you are driving at, but one of the things we do have going for us is the record of not having been relegated for 70 years, something only Arsenal can equal. The vast majority of Everton fans have never known 2nd Division football. These things do matter.
Kim Vivian
25 Posted 19/04/2023 at 16:25:30
Mick - I concur fully with your sentiments. Relegation would be horrible as it is a measure of pride to remain at the top table but as you say, if (big IF) we can compete at a decent level in the Championship - which cannot be presumed with this squad I have to say, especially after inevitable departures - we may just enjoy the football more again.

However, having said all that, I still think we will scrape home 17th with just 33 points absurd as that may seem. But Gawd alone knows what next season will be like in the PL with a depleted squad and bugger all incoming.

Pete Neilson
26 Posted 19/04/2023 at 16:53:13
Seven games to go and hoping we have enough in us to stay up. The EFL has even harsher P&S rules than the PL e.g. the upper limit on yearly losses is £13M in the Championship v £35M in the PL.

Relegation would mean selling Pickford and anyone else with any value that we can offload. But there is nothing during Moshiri's time to suggest we have the leadership or recruitment skills to help us build a new team to bounce back up. We need to fight for our lives to stay up as getting back would be even more demanding if not impossible with the morons running us at the moment.

Clive Rogers
27 Posted 19/04/2023 at 19:27:26
Owner Moshiri has said that relegation could be existential, meaning the club could cease to exist. This would presumably be because of massive debt. That’s very worrying coming from the owner.

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