TWO QUESTIONS emerged from this match: how much longer can Chelsea tolerate Dennis Wise's irresponsibility and how much longer will large crowds continue to flock to Goodison to watch an Everton team who could bore for England?
Wise was sent off for the third time this season in his first League match since he served a four-match suspension and afterwards his player- manager, Gianluca Vialli, appeared to have the end of his tether in sight.
Would Wise be fined? "No comment." What was his reaction to the sending- off? "No comment." All Vialli would say on the subject was a terse: "The less we speak about Dennis the better for him, for Chelsea, for the English game and for referees."
The lips were saying nothing but the attitude spoke volumes. Vialli looked thoroughly fed up with his 31-year-old captain whose worth as a player is being overtaken by his self-inflicted absences. Had Wise stayed on the field there was every reason to believe his team would have won which Chelsea will rue all the more if they finish within two points of the championship this season.
Wise was as tight-lipped as his boss at Goodison but on Radio Five Live yesterday he said: "I don't know if Gianluca is furious with me, but he didn't seem too upset with me after the match. I expect we'll have a chat but whatever's said will be between him and me." He did add, however, that he expected to be fined.
Too right. And he need not bother taking an advocate with him to plead his case because that is hopeless. Gary Willard reaches for his yellow card more quickly than most but even taking his idiosyncratic refereeing into account it was difficult to find fault with his two cautions for the inappropriately named Wise.
A scything foul on Danny Cadamarteri after three minutes and a lunge so late on Marco Materazzi it nearly did not get there until Sunday would have had a saint reaching for his top pocket never mind the card sharp Willard, and Wise deserved to go after 36 minutes. As, indeed, did Richard Dunne 15 minutes from the end.
The mathematicians among you will have worked out that Everton had a one-man advantage for almost 40 minutes but as they have the most toothless attack at home in the Premiership it was not a huge surprise that they failed to take advantage.
They could not score when they had Duncan Ferguson and Saturday did not suggest they will score without him and this was the sixth time in eight Premiership games at Goodison that they have come up with a blank. Frankly, if they were playing outside your window at the moment the temptation would be to draw the curtains and watch the wallpaper peel as a better form of entertainment.
Cadamarteri's end product frequently does not match the packaging while Ibrahima Bakayoko's ample talent reminds you off a good wine that does not travel. He might adapt to the British game but currently he looks like Daniel Amokachi in disguise.
As a result, Everton's greater share of possession yielded little and it was Chelsea who created the better chances. Twice in the last 13 minutes Tore Andre Flo got beyond the home defence only to shoot limply and the visitors travelled back to London thoroughly frustrated. Championship- winning teams bring three points from games like this.
In fact the only cutting thing at Goodison was the Scouse wit. "A hamper is for Christmas," one fan shouted, referring to the business of the former chairman, "Everton is for ever." Watching them it feels like that, too.
Everton (3-5-2): Myhre; Short, Materazzi, Dunne; Cleland, Grant, Hutchison, Collins, Ball; Cadamarteri, Bakayoko. Substitutes not used: Dacourt, Branch, Ward, Bilic, Simonsen (gk).
Chelsea (4-4-2): De Goey; Ferrer, Desailly, Leboeuf, Babayaro; Petrescu, Di Matteo, Wise, Poyet (Duberry, 33); Zola (Goldbaek, 62), Flo. Substitutes not used: Nicholls, Morris, Hitchcock (gk).
Sendings-off: Everton Dunne; Chelsea Wise. Bookings: Everton Ball, Bakayoko; Chelsea Petrescu, Poyet, Flo.
Referee: G Willard (Worthing).
Man of the match: Hutchison.
Attendance: 36,430.Reuse content