Football: Headless Everton

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The Independent Online
Sheffield United. . . . . 0

Everton. . . . . . . . . .0

Attendance: 15,135

PERHAPS Bobby Robson was being prescient . . . 'I'm stunned, bewildered and shocked,' he said. 'I can't believe it.' And he has not seen Everton yet.

Robson was reacting to being dismissed by Sporting Lisbon on Friday although his words would have been entirely appropriate had he moved from among the favourites for the manager's job at Goodison into the position vacated by Howard Kendall in time for this match. The poverty of the contest was stunning and bewildering, if not wholly shocking.

Sheffield United had scored only once in five matches prior to this meeting and with Everton hardly filling the Match Of The Day archives with entries for goal of the month a stalemate was always a possibility. The pessimists were not disappointed, although the lowest crowd at Bramall Lane (15,135), who booed the teams at half- time and the end, clearly were.

Quite how Everton have got themselves in this mess is mystifying. They began the season with three victories and when they defeated Liverpool in September with some aplomb their future looked promising. Since then they have won only two League matches and lost Kendall while their boardroom will not be able to act with certainty until the future of the Moores family shareholding is decided.

Yesterday, with four wingers in their line-up, they looked pretty directionless on the pitch, too. They could make a credible claim to be the better of two stultifyingly ordinary teams but whoever takes over at Goodison - Robson is in a queue of speculation that, reportedly, also includes Graham Taylor, Steve Coppell and Peter Reid - has considerable work to do.

Jostein Flo, back after five matches out with a thigh injury, had three chances for Sheffield United, while Everton created only two clear-cut openings, the best of which saw Matthew Jackson's powerful low shot tipped round the post by Alan Kelly.

And to think Everton were once known as the school of science. At the moment they would be hard put to light a Bunsen burner.

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