Moyes blasts slipshod Everton after 'poorest performance'

Bolton Wanderers 2 Everton 0

Most footballers would imagine "pathetic fallacy" is a phrase uttered by Alan Hansen to describe a defender who fails to pick up his marker. However, had David Moyes peered through the Reebok's girders, he would have seen the mist, the rain and the night streaming down from Winter Hill and it would have exactly matched the Everton manager's mood.

Should they fail to overcome Chelsea in the FA Cup on Saturday, Everton's season will have petered out by mid-February. For a club tipped by Sir Alex Ferguson to be the "dark horses" of this Premier League campaign, that is a depressing scenario. Here, they were utterly outplayed.

If northern clubs had a southern equivalent, Everton's would be Tottenham and yet they are funded like Fulham. Bill Kenwright, the man who holds the purse strings at Goodison Park, is a theatrical impresario and the phrase the "show must go on" is in his blood. However, he must know that were this a West End production, Everton: the Musical would have closed a long time ago.

"That was the poorest performance I have seen in my time here," said Moyes who is in his ninth year at Goodison. "We gave away two really poor goals. It wasn't as if Bolton had opened us up with their good play. We didn't win the big challenges. We had players who have had the poorest game I've ever seen them have. The team spirit and the toughness were are known for wasn't there.

"I select the team, it is up to me; maybe I have gone a bit soft on them but before today we have been on not a bad run – not great but not bad – but today's was as bad as I can remember."

However, too many matches in that "not a bad run" have been drawn and this morning Everton are three points above a relegation place. Asked if he thought his club were in a relegation fight, Moyes gave a rare, thin smile and replied: "I have thought that from week three."

There were grievances. Louis Saha, who had scored four times against Blackpool the previous weekend, was injured and Moyes thought the award of the free-kick that led to Bolton's opener "scandalous". When Stuart Holden took it, Gary Cahill's header deflected off Johnny Heitinga's shoulder to leave Tim Howard stranded.

There the mitigation ends. Bolton were slicker, shaper and, in bringing in Daniel Sturridge on loan from Chelsea, they had done some decent business in the January transfer window, something that was beyond Everton.

The striker has found the net three times in as many games and when he shaped to shoot as the ball ran loose in the area, the Reebok Stadium was already celebrating the decisive goal.

They might have won by more. The referee's assistant correctly judged that the ball had crossed the byline when Sturridge back-heeled it into Holden's path for the American to thunder home. But then Sturridge and Johan Elmander had each gone close with shots that slammed into the electronic advertising boards. Only the sight of Zat Knight being carried off on a stretcher after a brave tackle on Victor Anichebe gave Bolton manager Owen Coyle cause for concern.

Last season, Arsenal had sent Jack Wilshere to spend some time at Bolton, a confirmation of Arsène Wenger's faith in Coyle's methods. Wilshere was in the stands yesterday and Chelsea will hope Sturridge's game might be brought on in the same way. The striker had to haul himself out of bed at five in the morning on transfer deadline day to sign for Bolton and he has arrived far better than he travelled.

Subs: Bolton Wheater 7 (Knight, 28), Lee 6 (Taylor, 59), Muamba 6 (Sturridge, 90). Unused Bogdan (gk), Petrov, Klasnic, Moreno. Everton Osman 5 (Coleman, 61), Beckford 5 (Bilyaletdinov, 61), Baxter 6 (Anichebe, 78) Unused Mucha (gk), Hibbert, Jagielka, Duffy.

Booked: Bolton Elmander.

Man of the match Sturridge Match rating 7/10.

Possession Bolton 47% Everton 53%.

Attempts on target Bolton 6 Everton 4.

Referee L Probert (South Gloucs) Att 22,986.