LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: David Moyes the manager of Everton looks dejected during the FA Cup 5th round match sponsored by E.on between Everton and Reading at Goodison Park on March 1, 2011 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
It is hard to think of a positive to come out of Tuesday night’s game. To add salt to the already gaping wounds it was revealed that Tim Cahill will be out for three weeks and Marouane Fellaini has been ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Our already paper thin squad is being stretched to its absolute limit.
What goes up, must come down and Everton were dragged back down to earth in crude fashion as Reading upset the odds in the FA Cup Fifth Round to progress through to the quarter-finals and leave the Toffees licking their wounds and the fan's dreams of silverware in tatters.
Louis Saha’s Ferrari was one of three car crashes to take place this week. The second prevented Jermaine Beckford from arriving at the ground on time, meaning he had to be content with a place on the bench. The third was on the pitch, an absolute disaster, a shambles and yet another performance that shined a revealing light of the present state of the club – and we didn’t like what we saw.
The Reading players were clapped off the pitch by the Everton fans, they deserved it. But I reckon they still had more in the tank to give as they didn’t have to work that hard for the win.
They were organised at the back, often playing with eight men behind the ball once they went ahead, asking Everton to try and break them down. But then they broke quickly with the trio of Jimmy Kebe, Noel Hunt and Shane Long giving our defence no end of trouble.
Infuriatingly though it was a set-piece that was our downfall – again. We failed to clear a corner – twice – allowing Reading skipper Matt Mills to first win a header and then volley low through a crowd of players, past Howard and into the net.
It could have been worse a few minutes later when a mistake by Distin let Jimmy Kebe in, only for Howard to save well with his legs.
Moyes responded at the break by throwing on both Anichebe and Beckford (would things have been different had Beckford been able to start?) And while we started the half brightly, every time we got into a shooting position it produced a tame effort that was all too easy for young Alex McCarthy to save.
McCarthy only made his Reading debut two weeks ago so the chance was there to put him under real pressure. The rare occasions we did put the ball into the box he appeared hesitant and nervy. But the sum total of our night’s efforts was one Leon Osman shot that struck McCarthy’s shoulder from point-blank range – if we didn't know it wasn't going to be our night before we knew it then.
I can’t begrudge Reading the win, they thoroughly deserved it and I wish them luck in the next round. But for Everton the season is over bar the shouting. It has been littered with so much disappointment I sometimes find it hard to rouse myself to blog about it!
All that is left of the campaign is the three or four wins needed to secure our Premier League status before the inquest begins over the summer. Big changes are required at the club and some risks may have to be taken as the current path Everton are treading is becoming increasingly treacherous.
The FA Cup run has masked the underlying problems at the club and gave the bruised fans something to cling to. This humiliating exit has left everyone shattered and wishing the season was over now.
The only positive is perhaps, without the Cup, there is now no façade for the powers-that-be to hide behind and that hopefully pressure for change will become too much for them to resist.
But, after this season of perpetual disappointment, I'm not getting my hopes up.