Everton Soapbox: Goodison gets no better

Is there a cushier tie in the Everton fixture list than Sunderland at home? Will Jermaine Beckford score two against anyone else at this level? How worried should we be after a gutless surrender bringing the losing streak to four, with three tough games to come? Pete Sixsmith joins up the dots to offer some thoughts …


My first visit
to Goodison Park was in January 1966 for a Fourth Round FA Cup tie (which kicked off at 3pm along with the other 15 games that day).

I travelled on a coach from Shildon with, if memory serves me correctly, Phil Younghusband and Robert Newton. It was an uncomfortable day in the footballing cathedral that housed England’s then finest team as we lost 3-0 mostly due to turning in a performance that I would have described as supine had I known that word then.

Forty five years on, some things have changed and some haven’t. Phil and Robert have long departed the North East, Everton are no longer among England’s elite and to describe Goodison as a cathedral would be akin to saying that North Africa is a haven of peace and political stability.

I am, however, still travelling by coach and, more relevantly, witnessing performances that make me continue to use the word supine and question why on earth I part with hard earned money to watch utter dross like this.

Were I an Everton fan, I would scan the fixture list in June, look for the home game with Sunderland and either pencil it in as three certain points or pass my season ticket on to the man next door and take my wife (or better still someone else’s wife) for an exciting weekend in Llandudno Junction.

They did all they had to do. They grabbed hold of midfield early on, ran at our hopeless back four and rejoiced in Jermaine Beckford notching his first, and I would warrant, only Premier League double.

He had two tap ins courtesy of defending that would shame Brandon and Byshottles WMC on a Sunday morning. Ferdinand’s feeble header for the first was bad enough, his being bullied by that Iberian man mountain, Mikel Arteta for the second may well be the final act of his ultimately disappointing Sunderland career.

However, there was still a chance of avoiding a game winning second had John Mensah managed to guide Arteta to the by line. Here was a man who has played international football at the highest level and who is looking to stay at Sunderland and he goes to ground. Against Artetea!! So he pulls it back and lays it across to Beckford while Big John is sliding on his arse in the general direction of the running track. Hopeless!!!

We had had a couple of chances earlier on. Richardson had shot wide from a good position as early as the third minute and Howard made a good save from Sessegnon. And that, comrades, was it. Nothing else, other than a team performance that wouldn’t have burst a wet paper bag.

This is worrying. We have now lost four in a row, two to Champions League teams and two to teams who lie below us in the league. The general consensus is that we will lose the next three and then we have an “easy” run in.

No we don’t. The teams we play in April and May will all be scrapping for something. We have nothing to play for other than a decent league position. The Europa League dream of Bate Borisov at home on a Thursday night has gone and we could be on the edge of the relegation zone by the time those “easy” games against Wigan, Fulham et al arrive.

Why are we slipping away? Injuries have certainly played a part – losing Cattermole, Meyler and Wellbeck at the same time has reduced options and taken the youthful zest out of our midfield. We are very light up front as well. Gyan struggles without support and Richardson had an absolute stinker yesterday, confirming the view amongst many, that he plays four decent games and then slides back into obscurity.

The two January imports are finding the cut and thrust of the “world’s greatest league” difficult. Muntari was frequently caught in possession yesterday and Sessegnon was forced up blind alleys by the excellent Osman, Coleman and Neville.

As for Henderson, he tried to get us going but the instructions are clear: give the ball to Muntari – he will do the business. That needs a rethink.

And what about Everton and their oft repeated problems?

They fill their venerable old ground with proper fans who find a visit from Sunderland impossible to get excited about. They do have a problem with Goodison though. The area where visiting fans are situated is well past its sell by date and the fact that they charge a staggering £37 for a 1960s experience with wooden seats, exposed brickwork and toilets that would fail a health and safety inspection in Benghazi is something that the FA should investigate.

About as much chance of that happening as there is of us ever turning in a decent performance at L4 4EL.

* I know we promised Pete’s view for The Observer, too. Unfortunately, the paper costs far too much down here in France and they don’t seem – or didn’t whenever the site was checked – to have put Tim Rich’s match report online, let along the fans’ verdicts. Let us know if it has appeared and you feel like tapping it out for use here.

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12 thoughts on “Everton Soapbox: Goodison gets no better”

  1. Freddy, you musn’t assume anything without debate. Eight is great, but consistency is better, and turning out and playing your heart out is the best.Winning the title is not on the agenda, but playing your best for the people who pay your wages should be.

  2. Jeff, if being 8th in the league is being ‘thin’ then I can only assume that you expect to win the title

  3. I would to support the lads through thick and thin Freddy, but unfortunately for the last few years it’s only been thin and if it gets any thinner it will most likely vanish!!

  4. Tonights result (Everton 0 Reading 1) makes Saturday even more depressing. Still, if Arsenal lose tomorrow night to Orient, we could bring their hopes of being Champions to an end by winning on Saturday.
    Pass that bottle of meths over, Jimmy.

  5. Well said Martin. For the first time in a long while I just couldn’t bear to watch the majority of the second half. Mind you having to endure Barry Horne wittering on all the way through any game is enough to contend with. Combined with the complete lack of heart shown by all, it was just a step too far. There were too many players happy to coast to an easy defeat and not the faintest inkling of any belief that they could get back in it once Everton scored. Beckford was made to look like Lineker in his pomp by Ferdinand, Mensah and Bramble. Mensah isn’t only injury prone. He’s gets hurt a bit too easily and too regularly too. Same is true of Ferdinand as well.

  6. As usual Pete tells it the way it is. Even more shameful than the performance, was the attitude of our players. They looked disinterested, and the air of inevitability was palpably evident. Bruce has to make sure there is no repeat of that rubbish, and I’m quite sure that’s what he’ll do.

    Time after time our hopes are built up and as ever, they are unceremoniously knocked down again. After getting into a great position, there can be no excuses for a performance like that.
    We were crap from back to front with no exceptions. But the apathy was a sheer disgrace, and I agree that unless this sporadically familiar aspect of our game is completely eradicated, Niall is fighting an up-hill battle, because if the players don’t give a shit – why should we?

  7. Agree with Pete. Most of your fans would also agree with Pete as well Mark. Beckford isn’t good enough to play at this level but our defenders did their utmost to assist any claim that he might be. We have a dreadful record against Everton for whatever reason. You are always better than us regardless of relative league position or form at the time of the fixture.

  8. Couldn’t agree with you more, Mark. I think I made the point that we are an embarrasment at Everton on a regular basis. It wasn’t a pop at Beckford. In my view, he is not god enough to play at this level and the fact that he scored twice against us is more of an indictment of our feeble defenders thatn any attack on an honest but limited player. All credit to Moyes for getting out of him what he has.
    It’s not special when you pay a lot of money for an inadequate view, obstructed by a pillar. I know there is little that can be done about it, but it really isn’t good enough. Visiting fans pay the samt at The Emirates for modern seats and no pillars.

  9. I would encourage your team to put in a performance that would warrant a reaction from the Goodison faithful. Then you might understand why the ‘Grand Old Lady’ of English Football is so special.

    It is run down, but it’s home and it’s unbeatable when the faithful are in full voice.

    As for the pop at Beckford – uncalled for. You have enough of your own worries – so lay off the fella. Believe it or not we have enough of our own moaners to worry about with out adding you to the equation – the lad will come good.

    Good luck with the rest of the season – hope you are still here next season (we need the points).

  10. Well, well if Nial Quinn needs any reminder as to why Sunderland supportere are not turning up for games, and are apathetic towards his teams, perhaps he can take Saturdays abject display as a reason .If the team turns up, the faithfull might. but then we’ve been here before haven’t we? all promise and no action. sounds familiar?

  11. Wouldn’t disagree with a word of this Pete. One win in over ten visits for me and most of the performances have been utterly abject.We were poor on Saturday but we have regularly been even worse at Everton. There’s no logic to it. Like you Pete I intend to find something more rewarding to do when we play them next season.

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