Another trip to Wembley. Another defeat to Liverpool. Another chance missed.
As the dust has settled on the weekend’s Semi-Final, the overwhelming feeling of disappointment feels like it’s getting worse rather than better.
Like all other Evertonian’s I’m hurting and I’m not embarrassed to say it.
I’m already dreading Cup Final day and that inevitable feeling of “it should have been us”.
I wrote on Friday night that a win in the Semi-Final against our local neighbours would give a feeling of euphoria. Defeat wasn’t worth thinking about.
I was right.
It wasn’t the greatest of games but after a first half that we edged – nothing more – I felt we were in a strong position. We weren’t necessarily causing Liverpool too many problems but then Howard was hardly overworked either. They had to come out chasing and that would inevitably give us more space going forward.
But the game changed on it’s head at half time.
Hat’s off to Dalglish. Whatever he said worked and Liverpool came out of the traps flying. We started the second half on the back foot and simply couldn’t change gears.
There was an air of inevitability of the outcome. The second half always felt like a case of “when” Liverpool were going to score, rather than “if”.
When the winner eventually came, you never felt we would come back.
But why did it happen? Why did a side flying in the league fail to beat a team who are struggling and were playing their third choice keeper in goal?
Unfortunately, it’s all in the mind.
Liverpool have a psychological stronghold over Everton. Liverpool believe they will beat Everton each and every time they play. Everton expect defeat. Even when logic points to an easy win, the old demons come back to haunt us and we retreat into our shell.
Some point to Moyes’ less than impressive record in derby matches but this problem, this hoodoo they have over us, pre-dates the Moyes regime. But it’s certainly got no better during his tenure.
The nature of both Liverpool goal’s only served the highlight the fear we have of them.
Distin has been outstanding this season and a nomination for our player of the year. Plenty of centre-forwards spend 90 minutes in his arse pocket. The misplaced back pass was because Luis Suarez was 10 yards away from him. He’s normally coolness personified.
Then the winner. Take a look at the replay and in particular, the view from behind the goal. So interested is Fellaini in trying to rip the shirt of Carroll’s back, he’s got no idea at all where the ball is. As the ball angles into the corner of the net and Carroll wheels away to celebrate and fix his ponytail, Fellaini is looking up to the sky.
Trust me mate, we were all looking up to the skies at that point, for wholly different reasons.
It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. Nobody is in the mood to laugh.
Whether it be Moyes, Neville or Cahill afterwards, the sound bites were coming thick and fast. We win together, we lose together. We’re disappointed but for the fans as much as anything. We’ll stick together and learn from this.
We’ve heard it all before lads and it’s becoming tiresome. You may be disappointed but not as disappointed as the fans. For some in that squad, playing for Everton is a job and nothing more. You’ll never understand. You may think you do but you don’t.
Well, here is another sound bite for you. How about we had a fantastic opportunity and we blew it. Yet again when it really mattered, we bottled it
We went out with a whimper against a poor side on Saturday and it’s not good enough. Not good enough by far.
Many pundit’s will tell you we are punching above our weight. What a fantastic job Moyes has done to get us where we are. In many ways I would agree but at times, you need to break it down into finer detail.
That match was winnable on Saturday, whether we are punching above our weight or not. And we failed. We failed miserably. There was no fight, no determination, we simply fizzled out. Liverpool fans may celebrate their second half performance and the emotion of the occasion will allow that but when you watch it back, they were never made to work for it.
They were deserved winners in the end but a footballing exhibition it wasn’t.
The manager, like everyone else, must take responsibility for this defeat. He got it wrong on Saturday. His task is to set us up to win football matches both tactically and mentally and he failed on both counts.
If there is a psychological stronghold over us, as manager it is his job to lift it. We’ll never succeed with an inferiority complex.
I’m sick to the back teeth of hard luck stories and being told we are punching above our weight. The image that David Moyes is doing “little old Everton” a huge favour by hanging around is also becoming tiresome. A fantastic manager and I’m a huge fan but he does have his failings and they are sometimes lost in the lack of money at Everton.
I’m not advocating a change of managers. Quite the opposite. I believe it will be a sad day when he does eventually move on but I also don’t believe he is untouchable when you look at Everton’s failings. He get’s an awful lot right but I’m afraid he get’s a lot wrong as well.
We have had opportunities to succeed and each and every time, we’ve bottled it. Mentally, the squad isn’t strong enough.
Villareal in the Champions League qualifier. Fiorentina in the UEFA cup. Chelsea in the Carling Cup Semi-Final. Chelsea in the FA Cup Final and of course Liverpool at the weekend. Victories in each of the above would have made a massive difference to this football club and when it mattered most, we were left wanting.
Plenty of hard luck stories along the way for sure but fatal errors in there aswell.
You make your own luck in this world sometimes and they say fortune favours the brave (apologies for the cliché overload there). But you can’t keep being unlucky. When does bad luck turn to poor preparation and inadequacies?
The pain of the weekend is going to take a long time to go. I’d be quite happy to finish the season now. We may finish above our rivals in the league and for some that may be an achievement. I’d rather win a cup and when we had our chance to do that, we bottled it.
This article may be a knee-jerk reaction. I may look back in May and think it wasn’t such a bad season after all. But I can’t help how I feel and today it hurts. It hurts a lot.
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