I had to wait until the following Saturday to write this to give me time to recover from what was a worst case scenario game. The main reason Everton faltered so catastrophically was without doubt a starting lineup that the reserves would have concerns about fielding. I know from the last 10 years that David Moyes likes to employ a combative, generally British set of players for a derby. When you see the team sheet you can always see that this is his thinking but this derby was many steps too far.
The major problem for me was up front. I have a lot of time for Stracqualursi and still hope that we sign him but it seemed unfair on Jelavic to take him out after a scoring full debut against Tottenham. The decision to pair him with Anichebe (albeit drifting in and out of a wide position) was, for me, ludicrous. There is a time and a place for the type of player both Denis and Victor are but to have both on the pitch at the same time almost becomes a waste of the craft of the players behind. When the ball came to either player they simply lacked the technique or raw pace to trouble an impressive Skrtel and an ageing Carragher on the night.
Aside from the forward line there was another major problem. Derbies must be physically and psychologically two of the most demanding games in any season, particularly one that could have led to Everton leapfrogging Liverpool in the league. So I found it strange that Moyes deemed it the right game to bring players back who have played little football in the past couple of months. In the case of Jagielka for Heitinga it was a mistake. Heitinga has been in great form and deserved a starting place regardless of pecking order or nationality. The same applies to the Coleman for Drenthe and Anichebe for Cahill switches also. Drenthe for me has been one of the reasons for Everton's good form of late and although Cahill has not been scoring, he covers more blades of grass than any other player he walks onto a pitch with. A lack of Cahill's brand of industry was apparent as other players faded during the game.
Maybe the biggest mistake of all was the inclusion of Jack Rodwell. I am a huge fan of Rodwell and think he will be a massive player for Everton in a couple of years but he just didn't look ready to be back. Almost every pass he made was a negative one and that to me pointed to a lack of confidence on his part. With more football he will get back to his best but Tuesday was his worst display in an Everton shirt. Now I don't for one second think of Phil Neville as a central midfielder but he would have been there for me in the derby without question. Phil's biggest asset is his knowledge of how football works and when influence in the form of a big tackle or a rally cry is needed. This was missed on Tuesday. Maybe thinking of Sunderland led to most of the changes but I'd be disappointed if that was true.
My would be starting XI for Tuesday: Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Pienaar, Neville, Fellaini, Drenthe, Cahill, Jelavic.
Right! Rant over! Hopefully if you're reading this we've already beat Sunderland and are dreaming about Wembley. Come on you Blue Boys! Rocky Balbluer.