I am at a loss, truly. I’m not even sure if this is real life or I’m stuck in some sort of night terror which just keeps repeating itself. I can’t understand how a team that when last in Europe dominantly dispatched one of Germany’s biggest sides, Wolfsburg, away from home. Yet now two years on we are out without even a whimper.
I crucified Ronald Koeman time after time for his tactics and team selection this season so it’s only fair I hand out the same damning criticism to David Unsworth. In a pretty much must-win game he decided to start the game without a recognized striker on the pitch. No Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and Wayne Rooney is at home celebrating his son’s 8th birthday
Cuco Martina, who struggles in his most comfortable position on the right, was thrust in at left back in place of Leighton Baines who was left at home. The other two natural left backs at the club were unavailable with Luke Garbutt not registered in the squad and Brendan Galloway out on loan. After just six minutes Martina was booked however and it looked like an inevitable second wasn’t far behind.
An Ademola Lookman / Gylfi Sigurdsson one-two was, devastatingly, the high point of the first half for Everton. Yes you read that correctly, a couple of passes were the best thing we produced all half. Sigurdsson had a half chance after Aaron Lennon had brilliantly knocked down a long ball to the Icelandic talisman but he completely scuffed his chance. Lyon dominated the first half although as far as real clear cut chances; they were few and far between as the home side were not at their sharpest.
However two came at once for them just after the 20 minute mark as Bertrand Traore found himself unmarked in the box and headed a Memphis Depay cross at Jordan Pickford’s goal. The young keeper managed to get down and make a smart stop but it dropped for Nabil Fekir, he glanced his effort agonisingly wide. Later in the half Depay stung the palms of Pickford with a 30 yard free kick with the goalie comfortably parrying the ferocious strike away.
With minutes to go in the half, Martina fell awkwardly from height and had to be immobilized and stretchered off with fans of the game everywhere fearing for his safety.
In the second half, Everton’s best move of the game came as Morgan Schneiderlin dispossessed Lyon as they looked to counter and the ball fell for Lennon. He came inside and found Lookman who in turn laid it off for Sigurdsson to blast one just wide of the mark. This would be Everton’s final chance before they collapsed in the lame and weak manner they have perfected this season.
Schneiderlin’s slide tackle rebounded off Lyon midfield enforcer Tanguy N’Dombele and into the path of a clean through Traore. The defence was completely asleep and the former Chelsea man had all the time in the world to round Pickford and slide home. Most Everton fans knew that was probably the winning goal but Lyon didn’t let up as they smelled blood.
A simple long ball from the back was enough to get former Real Madrid man Mariano Diaz through on goal. The defending from Mason Holgate and Ashley Williams was infantile as Pickford managed to blocked the Dominican’s shot, however the ball came out to Depay whose clever reverse ball to Houssem Aouar gave the substitute the time and space to slot past Pickford and put the game, and Everton’s Europa League future, well and truly beyond any doubt.
Schneiderlin’s first booking may have been silly as he was booked for dissent after berating the referee for a number of minutes, but his second was well-deserved and off he went with ten minutes left to play. Depay then headed home from a cross into the box with Williams again lost and Holgate scrambling to mark the Dutchman to make it three.
Everton are out of Europe after falling at the first group stage hurdle, and what an embarrassing time it is to be an Everton fan. Just when you think we’ve hit an all time low the players get out their shovels and start digging again. The danger is we’ve dug ourselves so deep that we might not be able to get back out. Every part of the pitch is a shambles from back to front and it’s getting worse as the weeks roll on.
David Unsworth cannot be considered for the job. I don’t blame him for the last three losses as any manager in world football would struggle with this squad in this form, let alone a man with zero experience and his tactical naiveté at the top level. The players are an absolute joke at the moment and completely unfit to wear the royal blue. Whoever becomes the permanent manager has a hell of a job on their hands as this is surely one of the worst periods in recent times for the Blues, harkening back to the relegation-threatened 90’s era.