SkyDaz Everton Preview

Last updated : 21 April 2006 By Darren Porter

Bugger it! I know it's not over yet but the fat lady is warming up, the vultures are circling and relegation looms over us like the Grim Reaper. This time last week I was on a little high and now I'm on a little low, any way the wind blows! I see a little silhouette of a man, Scaramouche. Sorry folks lost it for a minute then.

The run in twists and turns like a twisty turny thing and just when you think we might have cracked it and prepare to throw in our ‘get out of jail free' card fate conspires to deliver a couple of blows. ‘Boro send down a weakened team and Pompey beat them one nil to throw us back into the abyss. Now I love football, I love English football and whenever an English team plays in Europe I want them to win (most of them anyway!) and I can extend this hand of goodwill to our neighbours over the wall up north. However I am willing to drop this façade of brotherly love for ‘Boro and West Ham who have sent out crappy reserve teams against Pompey in the last few weeks because of their cup commitments. Firstly I hope you both get knocked out of all the cups and secondly I hope there is a small outbreak of anthrax at your training ground. Then you can play a reduced team. Bitter? Me? Never.

Mathematically of course we are still in with a fighting chance but really we needed to beat a poor Villa team who were there for the taking. Quite frankly we weren't good enough. When you're down the bottom everything goes against you, Bryan Robson alluded to the very same fact earlier this week when he bemoaned the lack of penalties awarded to his team. The early injuries to Upson and Dunn were incredible and just about sum up our fortunes regarding the medical table. The physio's room must look like a scene from MASH.

The simple antidote to the amount of bad luck suffered by the teams down the bottom is not to be down there in the first bloody place!

Villa scored early against us but then again so does everyone else. Ok it was foot up by Davis and most referees would have awarded a free kick but there's that bad luck again. We equalised reasonably soon after and then fairly dominated the first half. I am sure we felt pretty comfortable during the break.

Unfortunately we drifted back to never looking like scoring and got hit with two hammer blows. The second goal was a fine acrobatic strike but why didn't we clear on any of the ample opportunities to put the ball halfway up the Holte? With a little luck it might have hit someone. For the final goal it was comical to watch Baros run at our defender without looking at the ball and be allowed to play on. It summed the day up.

Our season has been so disappointing that the defeat to Villa hurt, but not as much as I thought it would. I think we have all been miserable for so long that it was simply one more boot in the spuds. We have become immune.

All of which put a load more pressure on the Blackburn game. The return of Robbie never created as much aggravation as everyone thought. Ok he got a bit of abuse but nothing too sinister. Perhaps the lack of abuse worked against him in that he thrives on the notoriety and apart from some booing he was generally ignored.

The match was like a movie scripted to raise tension with a gut wrenching finale. The recipient of the two Player of the Year awards struggled from the start with a groin strain and the team was once again reshuffled to accommodate an enforced substitution. Just when it looked like the only winner was going to be the torrential rain the very effective Julian Gray squared the ball for Nicky Butt to scramble home the opener. Towards the end Taylor made a remarkable save and the ball quite literally could have flown anywhere. Fate determined that it lobbed gently to the pantomime villain and Savage mishit the ball into the bottom corner before embarking on a goal celebration that surely he was warned not to do!

Time was running out and the Blues badly needed a hero to step up to the plate. Cue Mikael Forssell, the guy you would want in front of goal in the last minute with the last chance. The stadium went bonkers and Fat Lady Relegation was told to sit down again. We're not ready for you to start warbling yet.

Everton haven't got an awful lot to play for. Our away form has been shocking. Sounds like a thriller. I expect nothing. I can't be disappointed then.

Keep right on. Don't give in to the dark side. They wear pink.