A feisty, even and slightly manic afternoon ended with both managers in calm and magnanimous agreement. Neither Mark Hughes nor David Moyes would have necessarily backed some of their players' decisions not to wear the Kick It Out T-shirts, but they respected their rights to do so. There would be no repeat of the Manchester United stand-off at either Queen's Park Rangers or Everton.
Anton Ferdinand followed his brother Rio in not wearing one, along with Shaun Wright-Phillips, Nedum Onuoha, Junior Hoilett and Djibril Cissé. Hughes said he had expected his players to wear them, but would not be punishing them. "It's a personal thing," he said. "Everyone has a view on whether enough is done." Everton's Steven Pienaar, Sylvain Distin and Victor Anichebe did not wear the T-shirts either. "It is too big a subject just for David Moyes' opinion to matter that much," said their manager afterwards. "I did speak to the players. I gave them the opportunity, it was up to them to decide. I'm totally supportive of the players."
The football could not have started much better for Hughes. Everton won two corners in the first minute, the second of which Julio Cesar punched away. The ball flew out to Hoilett, who pushed past Phil Neville, and tore downfield but seemed to have missed his moment to pass to Adel Taarabt. He tried a hopeful shot which deflected off Leighton Baines and went in. The goal was rushed, clumsy and not obviously planned. The rest of the game was similar. Neither side could establish much control on a wet pitch.
But Rangers are very generous hosts when it comes to offering their guests chances. After 33 minutes a fairly routine Pienaar free-kick met no resistance, and Distin headed in via a combination of Julio Cesar and the far post. Rangers panicked and could have conceded two more in the next minutes. Nikica Jelavic was the victim of an unpunished trip in the box before Phil Jagielka hit the bar.
If the two-goal first half was fun, the goalless second felt like the manic closing stages of a tight game. The ball flew from one end to the other, with players struggling to keep up.
Pienaar, perhaps trying to replace the absent Marouane Fellaini's menace, was booked twice in 10 second-half minutes and will miss the Merseyside derby next weekend. Moyes described it as "very, very harsh", but was delighted with how his players held out with 10 men. "We had the old-fashioned Everton resilience," he said. "We had to dig in."
Hughes added: "On another day we should have beaten them. It is just not falling for us at the moment. Things will turn round, I'm convinced of that."Reuse content