Mickey Blue Eyes
Whatever we were expecting, we weren't expecting that.
Oddly enough, when last December I voiced an opinion on a Wigan home league game I said this: "Sadly, some Evertonians make the serious mistake of treating Wigan Athletic as they would the contents of a chamber-pot, which only invites the retribution of wind blowing in the wrong direction. History is littered with examples of faded aristocracy tending its own toilet." I also titled the piece Apocalypse, Then? The unfunny irony today is palpable.
Firstly, let's not take anything away from Wigan. They played superbly, well-organised, neat, determined and full of spirit. They were full value for their win. They outplayed us from first to last all over the park. They were threatening long before they got three devastating goals in four minutes. It could easily have been four or five nil at half time, never mind at the final whistle. Good luck to them in the semi-final, which it looks like they should win too.
As for Us, well, comment is well nigh superfluous. There's no point picking on any individual for this shameful rout; they were all culpable, on and off the pitch. For whatever reason, our performance was as wretched as it was ignominious, as lacking in courage as it was short of discipline, as bereft of skill as it was of strength, as short of manager motivation as it was of accurate passing and tackling, and entirely without any sense of professional team or individual pride. It was the polar opposite of Wigan's play.
Lacking any other way of venting their fury, the fans were right to boo the shambles. They pay their money, a lot of money, and they are entitled - it isn't my way, but it was absolutely understandable even though it won't help.
Where to now? As I said at the start of the season six of the squad are thirty or older. They are coming to the end of their playing careers and it shows at times like this. The staying power simply isn't there. Toward the end it was embarrassing and sad to watch legs gone with twenty minutes still to play. Once again the entire centre of the team collapsed and became virtually invisible in midfield and defence. It was almost eerie. Meanwhile, Moyesy - having made catastrophic selections - sulked on the bench, always a sure sign of dire straits. Which means it is likely to be a melancholic, fading end to the season. Which is a huge pity after some of the outstanding football they played for most of the campaign. But c'est la vie.
It will be interesting to see how this is handled and whether the team can pick itself up and have a real go in remaining games. It is the least they can do. If they don't, one and all they can be assured they have finally lost the fans, many of whom have told me enough is enough. And that would be a pity after such promise.