I’ve had enough of this season already.
Just when they look like turning things around the team lurches further backwards, finding new ways to humiliate the supporters while keeping up with the old ones.
There are more than five thoughts rattling around my head after Monday’s tortuous draw with West Brom, but here are the pick of them:
1) The Mirallas question
Oh Kevin you idiot.
In a week where the Belgian sparkled from the bench against West Ham before subtly telling us all he is off in the summer, he goes and does this. It is clear from the reaction of the players that Leighton Baines was meant to take the penalty. Both Romelu Lukaku and Steven Naismith went over to try and get the ball back off Mirallas. Baines, not the type to kick up a fuss, merely checked with Mirallas that he was confident and wished him good luck. Allowing a player’s ego to get out of control is a worrying sign, even if he had scored the penalty. But given Everton’s plight and West Brom’s defensive tactics, scoring that penalty was critical. Baines – with 15 successful premier League penalties out of 16 – was the best player to do that.
That miss may prove crucial in our season and in Mirallas’ Goodison future.
The absence of Phil Jagielka in the whole mess was telling, as captain he should have demanded Mirallas give the ball to Baines. It is just yet more evidence of a fractured dressing with players pursuing their own ends rather than that of the team. Mirallas should at least apologise to the players and the fans. But don't hold your breath.
2) Don’t let that incident disguise another average display
Everton still had 45 minutes to score a goal against West Brom and failed to test Ben Foster. Yes, it was difficult. Tony Pulis set his side up to play for a point with every player behind the ball whenever Everton attacked. But once again our play was laboured and predictable, where were the fullbacks stretching the play? Where was the dynamism? The pace? It was just all so laboured and typical of a side with shattered confidence.
3) Lay off Ross
Speaking of shattered confidence, Ross Barkley looks broken. I know we are struggling as a team but I cannot fathom why the crowd are so quick to get on his back. He is one of the most talented young players to come through our academy for years yet he is being hounded at every turn. Martinez is telling Barkley to express himself, which means he will take risks every now and then. But howling and snarling at every mis-placed pass is going to do more harm than good - the ones booing now will be the same ones moaning when he sold to City in the summer. He could perhaps do with a break from the spotlight but given he is one of our better players I doubt we can afford to do that.
4) The Besic substitution
Roberto Martinez expressed his surprise at the reaction of the supporters when Besic was taken off in the second half; later revealing he had an injury. Taken in isolation the change for Arouna Kone made some sense, but the boos were the result of weeks of frustration at Martinez’s ineffective substitutions. Besic has been one of our better players in recent games and at least shows a bit iof fight; yet he constantly gets taken off. Gareth Barry meanwhile is never dropped or never substituted. Even if he was playing well at 34 he needs a rest at times. If Martinez cannot understand why the fans reacted like they did then we should all be worried.
5) There’s no hiding the fact we are in a relegation battle
Too good to go down? Most definitely not.
Just because we have a good squad on paper that did well last season does not mean results will automatically come. In games at home to West Brom, Stoke, Hull, Crystal Palace and Swansea Everton have taken just three points. In-form Palace, complete with smug Alan Pardew, lie in wait next before Liverpool and Chelsea.
I don’t know whether to laugh of cry.
I’ve spent most of this year questioning whether this campaign could get any worse and I realise now it can. We are in a relegation scrap and everyone – from the manager to the chairman to the players – needs to pull their finger out and get a grip of the situation.
The twisted world of football has demonstrated itself yet again with the squad jetting out to Qatar for a warm-weather training camp as a result of getting dumped out of the FA Cup.
That could be the last time failure is so richly rewarded though as with games ticking by, a failure to turn things around could result in catastrophe.