Club Focus – Everton – Sporadic attacks not enough to silence Toffees’ boo-boys

By drawing 0-0 with Wigan Athletic on Saturday, Everton extended their win-less run to seven Premier League games – four of which were at Goodison Park, much to the consternation of a home crowd that booed the players off at full-time. While it was little more than a short, sharp burst of condemnation from a frustrated minority of supporters, their feelings could be easily understood by the rest as they grumbled their way out of the ground.

This was not a turgid performance from Everton, certainly far better than the last home outing against West Bromwich Albion, although Mark Lawrenson may have been flattering the Toffees on Match of the Day when he suggested their problems were down to bad luck – either that or the pundit was basing his ill-informed opinion from a three minute highlight film. In such brief form on Saturday night Everton looked dangerous and certainly worth the three points, and maybe they were, just about. The reason Everton came away with only one point was not misfortune. In the second half Everton created enough chances and forced enough pressure on the Latics to justify a three-point return, but the first 45 minutes was diabolical, and that is where the problem lies.

Wigan deserve some of the blame for such a poor spectacle, with their rough-house tactics unsettling the home side. Steven Pienaar was pole-axed by Hendry Thomas within five minutes and received similar attention throughout the game while Marouane Fellaini needed treatment after a flailing elbow left him in a heap – but Everton did themselves no favours. Outside of the opening 10 minutes Everton offered little encouragement to a home support bereft of victory since October. To Wigan’s credit, their frantic pressing and challenges walking the line of what is acceptable knocked whatever confidence the Blues had. Everton resorted to needlessly hurried passes – a symptom of Wigan’s hard work, for Everton expected pressure even when none came – and that drew the crowd on to the players’ backs, and, inevitably, that drew more misplaced passes. It was only after the break Everton began to look like a team who believed they could win the game.

The early second half performance was some of the best, most consistent football Everton have played at Goodison this season, and this was what was featured on Match of the Day. If the whole game had seen such play there would not have been boos – except perhaps for Victor Anichebe, whose introduction was greeted with scattered catcalls after he turned down a new contract – but 20 minutes of hectic forward running, between the start of the second half and just after the hour, is scarcely enough to satisfy the home crowd. For that period a goal did feel inevitable, but when it did not come Everton resorted to disjointed long balls for Jermaine Beckford while looking frail on the counter-attack. Everton’s fans, the silent majority included, continue to wait for some home comfort.

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