The fallout from this latest embarrassment in a season of disappointments was always going to be nuclear level.
Losing to Liverpool’s B/C side in the Merseyside Derby at Anfield is scandalous on it’s own, but capitulating limply in the second half like wilted three-day-old lettuce means the uproar is going to be on par with a national emergency, for Everton’s supporters anyway.
Then the stories started coming out. First that no players even dared to come and clap the 8,000-plus Blues who had gone to Anfield, except on-loan Djibril Sidibe.
Sidibe the only one to go over to the @Everton fans in the Anfield Road End. Not sure that was entirely appreciated though...— Carl Markham (@carlmarkham) January 5, 2020
Meanwhile, Mason Holgate was only held up because he appeared to get into a shouting match with a rival fan.. a child, no less.
The Everton players showed more fight in the tunnel than on the pitch!— VAR & Doping World Champions Main Stand Ultras ⭐ (@MainStandULTRAS) January 6, 2020
Arguing with an 8 year old kid pic.twitter.com/24hCsEvFci
It got worse from there. Not a single player had the courage to face the media either, except one of the biggest scapegoats of Everton’s recent impotence, Gylfi Sigurdsson, who attempted to placate the fans.
“Of course no-one is happy when you lose and are out of the cup. Everyone associated with the club - fans, staff, players - are disappointed with the result.
”I think we have only got ourselves to blame not to have taken our chances in the first half. It’s very disappointing.
”We’ve just got to make sure we continue the form we had in the Premier League in the last couple of weeks and try to finish off the season strongly.”
Meanwhile, back in the dressing room, with the door closed while manager Carlo Ancelotti was still talking to the BBC, Duncan Ferguson laid into the squad for 25 minutes. However, as The Athletic reported, some of the players apparently piped up and argued with the assistant manager.
As Ferguson read the riot act, some fired back.
Despite being part of a full-strength Everton side which had just lost to a starting XI not far from being Liverpool’s under-23 team, some senior players insisted they had given their all during the second half.
Ferguson’s tirade was met with an element of defiance, with some strongly disputing the allegation they had thrown in the towel in the last 45 minutes at Anfield. Instead, these individuals chose to blame the setup and tactics for the crushing defeat.
There is already a feeling in some quarters that Carlo Ancelotti’s style is limiting the impact of certain players, even if most have found the experience of working with a manager of his status to be inspiring.
You think that was bad, well there’s more. A small group of fans decided they had had enough and yelling on social media wasn’t enough, and that they would go confront the players at Finch Farm, the club’s training facility.
Insider Paul Joyce in a Times exclusive claimed that Director of Football Marcel Brands had to come out and speak to the crowd gathered at the gates, who as expected were not allowed to confront the players. Brands did give them an audience and allowed them to vent their frustrations, and said he would pass on their observations to the players and the coaching staff.
Fair to say that we’ve been in better states as a club pic.twitter.com/P2NBkNqbTC— Tom (@CarIoMagnifico) January 8, 2020
It didn’t end there either, with Fabian Delph, who was one of the signings brought in this summer for his leadership abilities, continuing to fight with fans on social media.
So now that you’re all caught up, you’re probably very curious as to who the players are that stood up to Duncan Ferguson and are claiming that they are putting in the effort that we supporters are not seeing.
The players that apparently got into it with Big Dunc for the period before Ancelotti stepped back into the room - per Patrick Boyland and Greg O’Keeffe - were said to be ‘senior’ and ‘highest-paid’ players.
Who played in the game that could be considered a ‘senior’ player? Shall we say it’s anyone over 25? This leaves a pretty small group of players - Seamus Coleman, Sigurdsson, Morgan Schneiderlin, Sidibe, Theo Walcott and substitutes Fabian Delph and Bernard.
Who are the highest-paid players, say £80,000 and above who featured in the game? Delph, Lucas Digne, Richarlison, Walcott, Sigurdsson, Schneiderlin, Pickford, Yerry Mina and Bernard (lowest to highest, per Spotrac).
While what has been reported above has all been independently verified or comes from reliable sources, what we are going to talk about below is pure speculation based on previous accounts and other information gleaned over the season.
So in order of least likely to be involved in the spat, or least to gain from it anyway, to the highly suspect, let’s start looking at each of these players.
Mina, Bernard - both players are still working on their English, and are not necessarily troublemakers though the big defender appears to be the class clown in the squad.
Digne, Pickford - while undergoing poor seasons, neither has much incentive to lose their minds, or to be steamed about anything Ferguson said after that game. There was little the goalie could do about the winner while the fullback had been given a torrid time on his wing by Harvey Elliott, but then which winger hasn’t dragged him time and again this season.
Sidibe - the on-loan player has had a couple of poor games after a match-winning performance not so long ago, but he is only here temporarily, unlikely to get into it with the coaching staff.
Richarlison - one of the stars of the side, he’s been run into the ground the last few games. Again, his place in the side is secure and his quality is known, has no incentive for an argument.
Walcott - had an absolute ‘mare of a game on Sunday. While showing he was still capable of a couple of bright flashes, he was abjectly terrible for most of the rest of the 80-odd minutes he was on the pitch at Anfield. In general, he’s had a terrible season to follow a mediocre one. Doesn’t appear to be a troublemaker, but was Ferguson able to rile him up enough with a (deserved) tirade?
Sigurdsson - not clear if he was in the dressing room at the time or was the lone player talking to the media, but he’s been abjectly woeful especially since asked to step into the midfield with the recent spate of injuries. Memes about his disappearing act are already dime a dozen on social media channels. Barring half an hour against Manchester City, he’s been in every lineup since the Arsenal game. His distance covered stats for this season would make for good reading, especially since he ran the most of any Everton player last season.
Coleman - the club captain is probably only finding himself on the pitch because Sidibe is being used elsewhere. A spell on the sidelines seemed to do him good and he’s still capable of one good game every dozen, but as a captain leading his troops he has been sub-par. Disappeared along with most of the side on Sunday, only to resurface next to Holgate to yell at some smug Red brat at the end of the game. He was already steamed in the tunnel, did he blow up at Big Dunc too?
This is exactly why Everton fans were booing Schneiderlin a season or two back. Routine shithousery from a player who has demonstrated the utmost contempt for fans and club alike for far too long. Get a fucking restraining order taken out against this cheating cunt. #EFC pic.twitter.com/y4T2D8zkdT— robefc80 (@robefc80) January 5, 2020
Schneiderlin - already a most-hated figure among the fanbase for his part in a training ground walk-out alongside Kevin Mirallas a couple of seasons ago, his laidback playing style and otherwise minimal contribution to the football game deserved scolding. As for the goal itself and his ‘knock’ in the video above, make of it what you will.
Delph - The veteran midfielder has already gotten into a shouting match with teammate Holgate during a previous game. He was brought in to give the midfield some steel and winning spirit, but this one appears doomed. Delph’s attitude has not stabilized the Blues on the pitch, and he has not provided any of the leadership that you would want from someone his age. Worse, his antics online are going to get him spoken to by the club, which is never good.
(Again, please note that this is all speculation based on accounts we’ve seen, heard and read over the last few months.)
No matter how all this turns out, it is incredibly disheartening to see this level of dysfunction from our club. We’ve seen this unfold in multiple other squads, but for the Toffees to sink these levels especially when things should be looking up after the appointment of Ancelotti is doubly disappointing.
Sometimes it all needs to be razed to the ground to build a strong fortress. Looks like that is what is going to be required at Everton.