Not many teams would be clapped off after being held to a goalless draw by the division's bottom club but that was Fulham's reward yesterday.
The applause reflected the effort of Fulham's players, but also the status of their opponents. Everton may now be cellar-dwelling but they are respected within the Premier League, which makes their current position all the more perplexing. David Moyes seemed as bemused as anyone at his team's failure to secure a League win this season. "Somebody has to be bottom. I don't think we are a bottom-of-the-table side but at the moment it's us," he said.
"We're lacking firepower, butI don't think we are short of confidence or spirit. I still believe we are a really good team, we just haven't shown it yet."
The Fulham manager Mark Hughes said: "They are in a false position. They're a good side and have played well in most of their games I've seen this season."
Moyes felt Everton played well enough to win yesterday and rightly said they had more chances. Converting them is another matter. Everton have scored four League goals in six games – improbably half came in injury-time against Manchester United. The bulk of the chances yesterday fell to Yakubu Aiyegbeni who looks short of confidence and match-fitness. "We are lacking belief in front of goal," admitted Moyes. "We don't even seem to be able to deflect one in."
At least Everton were better than on their last trip to West London, Tuesday's Carling Cup exit to League One Brentford. Moyes' most interesting team change was the decision to play Seamus Coleman, a rampaging full-back, at right-wing with Phil Neville tucking in behind him. More pertinent for most Evertonians was the return of Tim Cahill after injury. The Australian lasted an hour, but was given little service. "Tim has a bad knee but wanted to play. It was a bit of a gamble," said Moyes.
Neither goalkeeper was tested until Dickson Etuhu headed into Tim Howard's arms after 40 minutes. Early in the second period Howard parried a drive from compatriot Clint Dempsey.
Mark Schwarzer was exercised by Mikel Arteta just before the break and denied Yakubu after 76 minutes. In injury-time Yakubu should have beaten him but shot weakly from eight yards. It was an effort that summed up Everton's pallid finishing this season. "The only way is up," said Moyes with a forced smile.
Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the match: Jagielka
Match rating: 5/10Reuse content