Football: Walker's future a matter of emergency

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The Independent Online
Everton. . . . .0

Coventry City. .2

Dublin 7, Wegerle 18

Attendance: 28,233

EVERTON'S board were quick to deny suggestions that they were going straight from their seats in the directors' box to an emergency meeting last night. But the evidence was incontrovertible yesterday that the emergency is already upon the club, and now it is just the meeting that everyone is waiting for.

No manager with a record this season that consisted of 12 games without a win could have any confidence in the future, although Mike Walker warned after the match: 'You might have a bit longer to wait.'

He had derived some encouragement from the way the Gwladys Street end had rallied behind him with some much- needed vocal support which he had gone towards them at the end to acknowledge.

'The crowd was unbelievable,' said Walker. 'I felt I ought to go and acknowledge them afterwards. That's the least they deserve. They also deserve a team that's not bottom of the league, but we're not getting the breaks.'

The Everton chairman Peter Johnson had also taken note of the crowd's generally supportive attitude to their beleaguered manager. 'You heard the way the crowd supported him. Tremendous support - they chanted his name,' said a chairman who prefaced his remarks by announcing that, despite the poised pens of the gathered press, he had no dramatic announcement to make.

A few more spectators were chanting Walker's name outside Goodison later, in close juxtaposition to the word 'out'. In fairness to Walker though, it was not he who can be blamed for experienced defenders twice freezing on the spot to allow a Coventry side with relatively trivial problems of their own to score two goals in the first 16 minutes.

The firs t dereliction of defensive duty brought a spectacular overhead volley from Dion Dublin, who, like half the male population of Britain it seems, had nearly become an Everton player on a couple of occasions in the past.

A second saw Roy Wegerle score with a crisp low shot from the angle of the penalty area, and only a superb close-range save by the Everton goalkeeper Neville Southall denied Dublin his second from a fierce volley before half-time.

Everton, it should be said, were not completely without promise going forward, as both their loan signings from Rangers made encouraging home debuts.

Ian Durrant stroked the ball around neatly before fading as the game wore on, while Duncan Ferguson, dominant in the air and deceptively elusive on the ground on one or two occasions, would have had a couple of goals to open his Everton account on another day.

Ferguson put two headers and one shot just wide of the target as Everton threw themselves forward with increasing desperation in the second half, but he missed the best chance of all when he sent a free header into the ground and straight into the hands of Steve Ogrizovic.

But Everton have the unenviable knack of always managing to find a way to lose a game, and in football that fault generally brings some changes of personnel.

They might have reinstated 'Z Cars' as their theme tune, but the emergency services, like the emergency meeting, have yet to arrive at the scene.