Life as an Evertonian is incredibly frustrating, never more so than on Saturday afternoon, when Everton for the second time this season failed to see out a 2-0 and a 3-2 lead, eventually coming away with a 3-3 draw. Now if you are expecting me to launch into a criticism of Roberto Martinez and his tactics then you are in the wrong place. I remain steadfast in my opinion that Roberto is the right man for Everton, instead I intend to highlight that even the greatest managers throw away winning positions in the final minutes of games (it happens to everyone) and that the real reason Everton failed to win was due to the disgraceful officiating that deserved no place in the Premier League.
With this is mind, we are going to move away from our normal five talking points and focus on the two that dominated all the chat after the match.
1. Don’t blame Roberto Martinez
I’m not sure what annoyed me most, the disgusting refereeing, the fact that we managed to throw away another two points or the ridiculous over the top criticism towards Roberto Martinez by our own supporters.
There are very few feelings in football worse than conceding a last minute equaliser. The elation of winning, ripped away in despairing fashion. To happen once in a season is frustrating, to happen twice is heart breaking. If you then consider that Everton were also 2-0 up in both games then you begin to understand why some Evertonians were so upset and angry, yet Everton and Roberto Martinez are not the first team to lose an advantage so late in a game.
Sir Alex Ferguson, probably the greatest manager ever to lead a team in England was, believe it or not, on the receiving end of a late equaliser or two and in games where his team had been leading by two goals earlier in the match. In fact, two such occasions came in games against Everton.
The point I am making is that it’s far too easy to blame ‘game management’. Occasionally teams will lose leads, it is how you respond to adversity that makes you a great team. Let’s reserve our judgement until the end of the season, because by the time the players are relaxing on their summer holidays, they may have two winners medals in their back pockets and have progressed nicely up the league (we are only 2 wins from 6th place).
What seems to have escaped many, which is understandable considering the final outcome, is that Everton showed tremendous resolve and spirit to fight their way back into a lead after Chelsea had pegged Everton back to 2-2. Many teams would have taken the easy option and succumbed to Chelsea’s momentum, but the Blues, backed by tremendous away support fought their way back into the game and scored a deserved third that would have been the winner, had it not been for the worst officiating of the season.
2. Heads should roll
I’m not talking about Mike Jones, although he should be brave enough to explain why he felt the need to play an additional minute of extra time after only seven were indicated by the fourth official. The real villain of the piece, is linesman Peter Kirkup, who despite standing in the perfect position, failed to spot that John Terry was standing two yards offside when he equalised deep into added time.
How he failed to spot Terry in an advanced position is beyond me. Even if he was unsure whether Oscar had managed to flick the ball on he should have consulted with the referee, who from his excellent vantage point, would have been able to explain that the Chelsea man had flicked the ball on to Terry, who was now caught hopelessly offside.
It wasn’t even a difficult call, it should have been one of the easiest decisions of the day, but maybe, just maybe the linesman got caught up in the emotion of the situation and failed to do the right thing.
Poor decisions cost jobs, I just hope Peter Kirkup’s poor decision, doesn’t cost Roberto his position as Everton manager.
Final point from me…I trust those singing “Allez, Allez, Allez Oh” and “Roberto had a dream” when Everton were two-nil up and outplaying the defending champions for the second time this season were not hypocritical enough to demand the manager be removed after diabolical officiating cost the Toffees a deserved three points?