Everton’s 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday compounded the feeling of resignation around Goodison Park, as David Moyes continues to fight against the tide of minimal transfer funds, an injury-ravaged squad and the departure and decline of key players that has left the Toffees floundering this season. There is also the ever-present spectre of the club’s crushing debt, while the rumoured signing of Manchester United midfield Darron Gibson has done little to lift supporters’ spirits.
The supporters’ general reaction to the outcome at White Hart Lane was not anger but sadness, in its own way a more devastating response since it was brought on by the depressing inevitability of the result. Everton are an extremely workmanlike side at the moment, shorn of the inspiration of Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar and without the dynamic attacking instinct of Tim Cahill circa 2005.
In their place lies a team only really capable of containing opposition. When the onus shifts to Everton and there is a duty to attack, either in a winnable home game or after falling a goal behind, Moyes’ side is incapable of rising to the occasion.
There is not one singular reason why that is the case, rather a confluence of factors that have conspired against Moyes to produce a side painfully lacking in vision and creativity. Unfortunately for the manager, his own role in the side’s downfall cannot be excused. Rigidly sticking to the same variations of 4-5-1 regardless of what players are available and allowing James Vaughan, Yakubu and Jermaine Beckford to leave in the summer without identifying adequate replacements are just a couple of the valid criticisms of Moyes.
Even more than the manager however, the board must shoulder a large amount of responsibility for the club’s predicament. The board gambled on Moyes being able to guide Everton into at least the Europa League each season, without a plan B, and without a back-up strategy should a ground move not materialise. Moreover, the only effect that the board’s continued obfuscation of the true nature of the club’s finances has been for it to lose friends and alienate supporters who declined to follow the lead of protest group the Blue Union.
Moyes’ pre-Spurs press conference provided the most damning ammunition. The manager revealed he will not be able to spend the £10m received for Arteta in August, despite the board demanding an apology from the Liverpool
Where Everton go from here, both to the end of the season and in the summer transfer window, is unclear. Gibson is viewed by most on Merseyside as a hard-working but limited midfielder, precisely what Everton already possess in spades and therefore need least of all. The narrow-mindedness of Moyes’ transfer targets and the board’s doublespeak over the reality of the club’s bank balance suggest a bleak future on and off the pitch.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Aston Villa v Everton