5) Sat Dec 15 Stoke 1-1 Everton
It may seem strange to say it but it wasn’t the games Everton lost last season that cost them a European place, it was the games they drew. This stalemate at the Britannia was their ninth in 17 league games. It was an ugly, ugly game against an ugly side, who gifted Everton the lead thanks to Ryan Shawcross’ own goal. Marouane Fellaini showed his ugly side too though, crudely head-butting Shawcross. The Potters player was trying to wrestle Fellaini at a corner, but two wrongs don’t make a right and the Belgian was rightly sent off. To compound the frustration Tim Howard let a Kenwyne Jones header squirm through his grasp to secure Stoke a point.
4) Sat Jan 12 Swansea 0-0 Everton
Another example of game Everton should have won, though they were playing a side showing no attacking ambition whatsoever. They had just come off a fine 2-0 win over Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final and had the second leg as well as an FA Cup replay with Arsenal lying in wait, so this was clearly low on their list of priorities. Everton, though, struggled to make any clear-cut opportunities and this has to go down as a case of another two points dropped.
3) Sat Nov 17 Reading 2-1 Everton
Everton had only lost once in the league when they went to Reading in mid November, though a run of four consecutive draws had frustratingly stalled their progress. Reading meanwhile were bottom of the league, without a win and seemingly there for the taking, especially when Steven Naismith gave the Toffees an early lead. But yet another failure to finish teams off allowed Adam Le Fondre to head home the equalizer before a late penalty from the same player sealed Everton’s fate.
2) Tuesday Sept 25 Leeds 2-1 Everton
Twenty-four hours of biblical rain had left Elland Road sodden and Everton ripe for an upset in front of the live TV cameras. Moyes opted to put his faith in some of his squad players and it backfired spectacularly. Aidan White’s early strike put the Whites in front and although Everton briefly rallied, they struggled to create many clear-cut opportunities. Rodolph Austin touched home a free kick to double United’s advantage in the second half, with Sylvain Distin’s header proving to be merely a consolation. I think Moyes learned a lot about the paucity of his squad that night and explained why many of them barely featured again that campaign.
1) Sat Mar 9 Everton 0-3 Wigan
I’m pretty sure every Everton fan in the land will choose this as their worst game of last season, a true horror show of a performance. Everton actually began ok, with Nikica Jelavic drawing a smart stop from Joel Robles. But a disastrous four minute period, like which I have rarely seen watching Everton, sealed the game for Wigan. Maynour Figueroa was left unmarked to nod home from a corner on 30 minutes before Phil Neville – a bizarre choice ahead of Darron Gibson in midfield – signaled the end of his Everton career by attempting a ludicrous cross field pass that arced into the path of Callum McManaman, who gleefully stroked home. The whole crowd were stunned, as were the players, who were chasing shadows when Jordi Gomez stroked home the third on 34 minutes.
It was a disastrous performance, made worse by an act of petulance by Marouane Fellaini, who angrily gestured to the crowd when they dared to criticise him for walking around the pitch when the ball was in play. It felt very much like an end of an era and a huge opportunity missed – highlighted by the sight of Wigan lifting the trophy itself two months later.