Football: Howler adds to Wilson torment

Sheffield Wednesday 0 Everton 2
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IF DANNY WILSON could design his ideal footballer - and who needs one more than he at present? - he confessed after this latest defeat, his man would have the skills of Benito Carbone and the commitment of Andy Booth.

It sounds a little like cross-breeding a humming-bird with a camel - which is to say rather difficult - but it was not the fault of either of these contrasting personalities that Wednesday were beaten for the sixth time at this early stage of the season.

It was lost because of a breakdown in communication between Des Walker and Emerson Thome, whose partnership in the middle of the Sheffield defence is usually one of the more reliable areas of this struggling side.

The problem is that they have an excess of players at Hillsborough, like Petter Rudi and Niclas Alexandersson, who might make a contribution in a good side, but who are not ideally equipped for the sort of dogfight that lies ahead.

The crowd might have been split on the subject of Carbone, but they were unanimous on Rudi. The Norwegian was barracked throughout an ineffective first half and replaced at half-time.

But, as Hillsborough celebrated an inauspicious 100th anniversary, it was Carbone who remained Wilson's biggest problem. Having devoted most of his programme notes to bewailing the workings of the rumour mill over the last couple of weeks, he confirmed that the most outlandish rumour of all was perfectly true.

Yes, bizarre as it sounds, Wilson had refused to speak to Carbone all week, but then included him among his substitutes and asked him to perform a late rescue. That is surely an unsatisfactory half-way house.

That was also the view expressed by a substantial proportion of the Hillsborough crowd - and even Carbone's high-profile kindred spirits are beginning to distance themselves from him.

No less an authority than George Best branded him before the match as the type of foreigner who comes into British football "to take the mickey". Ah, for the good old days when we had our own, home-grown mickey-takers and did not have to import them from the four corners of the earth.

Although helped by Wednesday's uncertainties, they produced evidence that there could be brighter times ahead - at least on the field. Their wealth of experience at the back kept them steady and, on another day, Kevin Campbell and Francis Jeffers could have had three or four between them.

For Wednesday, next Sunday's game at Newcastle now assumes massive proportions. How Wilson must wish he had a few Carbone-Booth hybrids available for that showdown.

Mind you, these Frankenstein experiments have a habit of going wrong. With Wednesday's luck, they would finish up with a player with the first touch and strike rate of Booth and the disaffected attitude of Carbone.

Goals: Barmby (14) 0-1; Gemmill (18) 0-2.

Sheffield Wedneday (4-4-2): Pressman; Nolan, Thome, Walker, Briscoe; Alexandersson (Donnelly, 63), Atherton, Sonner, Rudi (O'Donnell, h-t); De Bilde (Carbone, 64), Booth. Substitutes not used: Newsome, Srnicek (gk).

Everton (4-4-2): Gerrard; Weir, Gough, Watson, Unsworth; Ward (Hutchison, 65), Gemmill, Pembridge (Abel Xavier, 46), Barmby; Jeffers (Collins, 78), Campbell. Substitutes not used: Cadamarteri, Simonsen (gk).

Referee: M Halsey (Hertfordshire). Bookings: Wednesday: Briscoe, O'Donnell, Donnelly.

Man of the match: Gemmill.

Attendance: 23,539.

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