I must admit I take a strange kind of pleasure in sifting through the wreckage of an Everton season to find the five worst matches. Maybe it is a kind self-soothing therapy? The 2021-22 season certainly produced a particularly bountiful selection of disasters, perhaps more than in any campaign this decade.
Narrowing it down to five was actually a challenge - Everton lost 22 games throughout the campaign and many of them were miserable. But I have managed to produce a top five, with some of these games among the worst Evertonians have experienced for a very long time.
There are, though, plenty of alternatives so if you think another match deserves a mention then you are welcome to state your case in the comments.
5) Norwich 2-1 Everton
The only positive to come out of this game was the fact it sparked the sacking of Rafael Benitez. Everything else about it was a shambles.
Norwich City were dreadful throughout the 2021-22 season, finishing rock bottom and winning just five games all season. The fact one of those was against Everton – and a deserved one at that – is a badge of shame.
Richarlison’s goal was good I’ll give him that, but a ninth defeat in 12 Premier League games left the Everton squad, to quote Andros Townsend, ‘broken’.
4) Tottenham 5-0 Everton
A few years ago Tottenham and Everton were fairly evenly matched and regular rivals for the crown of ‘best of the rest’. Now, the chasm between the sides has rarely been wider after this miserable evening in early March.
What made it humiliating was that Spurs clearly went easy on Everton in the second half. If they really wanted to score 10 you felt they could have done so without breaking sweat.
It left Everton just one point outside the relegation zone, with doubts creeping in about Frank Lampard’s ability to keep their heads above water.
3) Everton 1-4 Liverpool
The fact I haven’t put Everton’s biggest home derby defeat since 1982 as number one shows just how bad this season has been. The main reason being it is was thoroughly expected and arguably not as worse as we had feared. Liverpool cruised to victory in front of a mutinous crowd that turned on Benitez and the Goodison board.
Director of Football Marcel Brands was involved in an angry exchange with a supporter after the game. The Dutchman would leave the club shortly after, the start of an extensive clear-out at Finch Farm, with the club seemingly imploding in front of our eyes.
2) Everton 2-5 Watford
This was the game where it started to go wrong, though it is easy to forget that Everton were on course to go sixth when Richarlison put them 2-1 up after 63 minutes. But Josh King’s equaliser sparked an extraordinary collapse as the Toffees conceded four goals in 11 minutes to slip to a humiliating 5-2 defeat.
To rub salt in the wounds king, who failed to score in 11 appearances for Everton the previous season, ended up with a hat-trick. To add to the comedic value he would only score two more goals all season. It was also one of only six games Watford would win all season. Everton, that.
It really was one of those special campaigns where Everton were seemingly intent on embarrassing themselves at every turn.
1) Burnley 3-2 Everton
Had it not been for the great escape this game could have been a grim staging post in Everton’s history. The moment they began an inexorable slide towards relegation, ending their proud 69-year stay in the top-flight.
It was billed as a ’must not lose’ but Everton did just that despite leading 2-1 at half-time against a side that had only won three times all season up to that point (sensing a theme here?).
Maxwell Cornet’s 85th-minute strike was like a dagger through Evertonian hearts as the spectre of relegation suddenly became real. Sean Dyche stuck the knife in further after the game by revealing his half-time talk involved reminding the players that Everton were a side that ad ‘forgotten how to win’.
It all ended well in the end, but I will never forget the visceral feeling of dread and fear Evertonians felt at the final whistle.