David Moyes is a curious cove. Whilst most Premier League managers in his position – coming into the new season on the back of a fifth-place finish but seemingly without the resources for the squad strengthening so blatantly required for a club of those aspirations – might wish to deflect some of the fans' ire with the odd muttering about the board, he simply holds up his own hands. "I feel like I'm letting my players down," he said after Saturday's match.
At this point it would have been possible to ask "what players?", such is the paucity of established quality on his fit squad-sheet. But it wasn't the time. After all, Everton, despite more starry-eyed teenagers in their ranks than the average episode of "X Factor", had just won their first game of the season and done so away, against opposition who, at certain stages, played rather wonderfully. Only Moyes could get away with putting the emphasis squarely on the negative.
The Scot did so, mind, much as he did after the opening day defeat to Blackburn. And although he paid tribute to his young side's unlikely triumph – "you saw the team we put out – for them to win anywhere in the Premier League is a credit " – he did nothing to change the soundtrack of Everton's frustrating, signing-less summer.
He confessed that while he still believes that he needs "six or seven" new players before the closing of the window next Monday, the number will be closer to nought. What's been the problem? "A little bit of everything," said Moyes. He did not want to go into details. Suffice to say that when he looks at his players on the training pitch in the morning he feels a sense of guilt. "I should be helping them by bringing in reinforcements to help them," he said. "Is that affecting them? Of course it is. They aren't daft."
No they are not, not even the boys straight out of school. Jose Baxter, 16, and Jack Rodwell, 17, both started on Saturday and both will be aware that when some experienced names emerge, either on transfers or, more to the point, back from injury, they will return to the fringes. In truth, that is where they should be as they are clearly not yet ready for this level. They were part of the midfield left chasing the shadows for a first hour of complete West Bromwich dominance. Everton only survived thanks to the excellence of Joleon Lescott and Joseph Yobo at the centre of defence and the skewed shooting boots of Ishmael Miller.
To be fair to the Mancunian he was the lone striker and against a back four as accomplished as Everton's that was a big ask. It was one of the crumbs of comfort Tony Mowbray was reaching for afterwards, although they were many on a table short of points but bountiful with encouragement. The West Bromwich manager spent £20m in the close season, but none of it as wisely as the £3.2m invested on the Dutch right-back Gianni Zuiverloon. He only arrived in the week from the Olympics and was supposedly suffering badly from jetlag. When he is fully awake he will be some player.
And, if they learn to convert their panache into a punch, West Bromwich could be some side, at least one good enough to be above the relegation scrap. Lessons must be heeded, however, and as Mowbray declared "learnt quickly". Leon Osman's opener was perfectly taken but by then should have been merely to reduce some arrears; Yakubu's came courtesy of a classic goalie-defender mix-up. That was that: game over, points lost, no one will remember come next month, never mind next May, who was the better side. As Moyes said: "A cruel league". Both in the playing and the trading.
Goals: Osman (65) 0-1; Yakubu (76) 0-2; Bednar pen (90) 1-2.
West Bromwich Albion (4-5-1): Carson; Zuiverloon, Meite, Barnett, Robinson; Koren (Bednar, 70), Morrison, Greening, Kim (MacDonald, 71), Brunt; Miller (Beattie, 80). Substitutes not used: Kiely (gk), Hoefkens, Cech, Pele.
Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville, Yobo, Lescott, Baines; Arteta, Jagielka, Rodwell, Baxter (Vaughan, 58); Osman; Yakubu (Nuno Valente, 86). Substitutes not used: Turner (gk), Jutkiewicz, Agard, Kissock, Wallace.
Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).
Bookings: West Bromwich Zuiverloon, Meite, Brunt; Everton Osman.
Man of the match: Osman
Attendance: 26,190.Reuse content