A short article looking at the good and bad games that ensured we missed out on Europe but also didn’t fall behind our rivals.
Everton 1 – 0 Manchester United
After a number of bad starts in recent seasons, Everton needed to start with a bang and there was no bigger test than eventual champions Manchester United. The Blues battled for the whole 90 minutes and were very convincing in the win that set off a good string of results.
Everton 2 – 2 Newcastle United
The next Premier League game at Goodison also fell on a Monday night but this time was a challenge against what people thought would be a 6th or 7th place battle. The home side were frustrated after leading twice but being pulled back to equalise twice. Before the second equaliser though, two goals were wrongly ruled out for the Blues, which made the team lose pace of the very top sides.
Leeds United 2 – Everton 1
Everton need a trophy. Moyes put out a team with a lot of the reserves and it showed. The first half was completely dire and saw us go into half time already behind. We never regrouped, lost another goal and a late goal couldn’t complete a comeback. A chance of a trophy ruined at the first stage.
Everton 2 – 1 Sunderland
After four draws on the bounce, the Blues needed a win to keep pace with the top 4. Sunderland took the lead and this meant that the team needed to come up with 2 goals. They duly obliged with two quick fire goals, which regained the hopes of many Evertonians.
Manchester City 1 – 1 Everton
The end of November and all through December brought tough fixtures. After finally losing at the Eithad last season, after a number of years winning there, Moyes’ men could have done with a win again. We took the lead, defended resiliently but they were given a non-penalty which levelled the game. A win there could have really put Everton in a strong position.
Everton 2 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur
This game followed the game at City, and by now it looked like Tottenham would be grabbing 4th with Everton and Arsenal sitting as outsiders. If Spurs won this game, they’d have been out of sight. They took the lead too through a deflected long range effort. Luckily for us in injury time, former Spurs man Pienaar popped up with a headed goal, and Jelavic decided to score one of his few goals in the season to turn the score around and give Tottenham a wobble. Recently Andre Villas-Boas said that this game was the one that stopped them getting Champions League football.
Newcastle United 1 – 2 Everton
After the first loss at home all season to Chelsea and starting to lose track of the European places, a win at St. James Park was essential. Newcastle were not going to be 6th or 7th place, but were actually fighting to stay above the teams fighting for safety. After falling behind after just 1 minute, Everton needed yet another comeback, which fortunately came. Anichebe continued his better form from the bench, and Baines delivered one of the goals of the season with a stunning freekick. Game on.
Norwich City 2 – 1 Everton
This game came some time after the game against Newcastle. The form before this game was dodgy, a couple of wins, a few draws and one loss to Man Utd at Old Trafford. A win here would have seen the Blues be only 1 or 2 points behind the top 4 side. A win was coming until on loan Canaries striker Kamara popped up from a corner, and then full on pressure followed to a last minute winner for Grant Holt. The win was gone, the draw was gone and Tottenham won their game two days later with a Bale wonder-show.
Everton 0 – 3 Wigan Athletic
The F.A cup was most certainly ON. Although the earlier rounds had been favourable draws, Everton still made hard work of it. Now all we had to do was beat Wigan to get to the semi final at Wembley, with only Blackburn or Millwall waiting. The final was in sight. Unfortunately, nearly every Evertonian couldn’t help thinking this and it spread to the players, as the worst 5 minutes of Moyes’ tenure came and a dreadful other 85 minutes weren’t far off. Wigan swept us aside, going on to win it. Another year gone.
Everton 2 – 0 Manchester City
Evertonians were riled. Some of the biggest Moyes fans, including myself, wanted him gone for bottling another game where cup success could have followed. Man City were up at home next, and Everton needed a performance more than anything. Passion was required and that was exactly what was delivered. City’s mercenaries couldn’t cope and fell to a 2-0 defeat. 4th place was still an outside shout, and that is what kept Moyes and Evertonians going.
Sunderland 1 – 0 Everton
As I said, 4th place and Champions League was an outside chance. We needed to keep on winning and hope that Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal slipped up when they played each other and ourselves. Sunderland were under new manager Paolo Di Canio, and the new manager honeymoon period was enough to see them defeat us and end our realistic hopes of European football. The games that followed all had a feel of ‘end of season’ to them, even though the players were saying otherwise.