Sorry season drags on as fans vent frustration at Jez Moxey
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Everton 0
Monday 07 May 2012
Everton's hopes of confirming themselves as Merseyside's top team this season were put on hold after this stalemate with already-doomed Wolves, where the gallows humour of a demob-happy home crowd often provided better entertainment.
Midway through the second half, by which point it was becoming clear even Everton's desire to finish above Liverpool could not trick them into a breakthrough, supporters on the South Bank began going through a repertoire of self-mocking songs and chants to ensure the faithful departed in good cheer after a season of desperate disappointment for Wolves.
It began with ironic calls of "Ole!" whenever their side put together a coherent move, which was not very often, and continued with chants of "Let's pretend we've scored a goal" followed by two sustained outbursts of cheering and a refrain of "Two-nil to the mighty Wolves". Then came a tongue-in-cheek chant of "Connor for Albion", aimed without apparent malice towards Wolves' interim manager Terry Connor, and the darker "F*** the team and we'll build a stand", a swipe at the owner-chairman, Steve Morgan, and chief executive, Jez Moxey.
When the public-address announcer informed spectators that there would be four minutes of added time, booing broke out before the cry of "We want three" rose up from the South Bank. Earlier, to add to the sense of unreality, two pitch invaders had broken out of the stand housing Everton's followers, one brandishing a cardboard cut-out of the FA Cup. Pursued by orange-clad stewards they jinked around the pitch like 1950s Scottish wingers being apprehended.
To compound the end-of-season atmosphere, the Everton manager, David Moyes, ducked his post-match press conference, sending in his assistant, Steve Round, to reveal that his players were "disappointed" not to have scored after creating "enough chances to win the game". Moyes, he explained, was tired of being asked about the possibility of finishing ahead of their neighbours for only the second time in 25 years. "The players want to come as high as they can. If that's above Liverpool, even better. If we beat Newcastle at Goodison next Sunday, we've done it."
Round justifiably suggested Everton had "a perfectly good goal disallowed" during the first half, when Nikica Jelavic's pace deceived a linesman into incorrectly flagging for offside before he fired past Dorus De Vries. "From our penalty box up to theirs we played some intelligent, attacking football, but the final pass or shot wasn't quite there," he added. "It was always going to be a tough game because Wolves wanted to send the fans home happy."
Connor's assessment confirmed as much. "It was important to try to leave them with something positive to go home with for the summer," said Mick McCarthy's former assistant, who has achieved four draws and no wins in 12 matches since the latter's sacking in February. Connor's contract expires at the end of the month, although he will take the team at Wigan next Sunday. "We signed up for a 38-game season, so we have to make sure for the integrity of the league that we do our job properly. If we can win or draw that will be three games without defeat."
A dignified figure who remains popular with the players, Connor at least avoided the indignity of seeing Wolves equal the Premier League record of 14 home losses twice posted by Sunderland. Everton, for whom England's Phil Jagielka was imperious at centre-back, had the more clear-cut chances but, given the fragility of Wolves, this, surely, was an opportunity squandered.
Wolves: DE VRIES 7/10; ZUBAR 6; STEARMAN 5; BERRA 6; WARD 5; KIGHTLY 5; EDWARDS 4; HENRY 7; HUNT 5; DOYLE 6; FLETCHER 6
Everton: HOWARD 7; DISTIN 7; HEITINGA 7; JAGIELKA 8; HIBBERT 7; PIENAAR 7; CAHILL 6; OSMAN 6; McFADDEN 5; JELAVIC 7; FELLAINI 6
Substitutes: Wolverhampton Wanderers Elokobi 5 (Berra, 54), Ebanks-Blake 5 (Fletcher, 60), Forde (Kightly, 71). Everton Stracqualursi 5 (McFadden, 58), Gueye 6 (Cahill, 68).
Man of the match Jagielka. Match rating 5/10.
Possession: Wolves 48% Everton 52%.
Attempts on target: Wolves 1 Everton 10.
Referee L Mason (Greater Manchester).
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